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Adults' Sentence Fragments: Who, What, When, Where, and Why

Susan Kemper

The distribution of sentence fragments was examined in a corpus of spontaneous narratives told by two groups of adults, a young-old group 60 to 74 years of age and an old-old group 75 to 90 years of age.  Although there was no overall increase in the occurrence of sentence fragments with age, there was a change in where fragments occurred and what types of fragments occurred.  Young-old adults were more likely to produce false starts, whereas old-old adults were more likely to produce filled pauses; both types of fragments were more common in embedded clauses of complex setntences than in the main clauses.  Hence the production of sentence fragments appears to be associated with syntactic processing problems that contribute to word-retrieval problems and sentence reformulation.
Kemper, S. 1992 Adults' Sentence Fragments: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. In Communication Research 19/4: 444-458.

Key points relevant to the study of filled pauses


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