Syntactic Complexity Measure?

Kimberly Mueller digglekim at
Fri Jun 12 14:13:21 UTC 2015

Dear All,

Kimberly Mueller here from UW Madison, using CHAT/CLAN (thank you!!!) to 
transcribe 5-10 minute language samples from adults ages 40 - 80 who are at 
risk for developing Alzheimer's Disease.

Would anyone (and/or everyone!) please provide guidance on measures you 
recommend to capture syntactic complexity?  We have been segmenting 
utterances using the guidance in the CHAT manual (see below).  Any help 
with codes/commands would also be appreciated!

Many thanks,

Utterance Manual for CHAT/CLAN 

*Utterances in CHAT/CLAN are separated using a T-unit classification. *

*A T-unit consists of an independent clause and its corresponding depending 
clauses. *

*An independent clause includes a subject and a verb. *

*A dependent clause provides additional information to an independent 
clause, but it cannot stand by itself. *

*For example, if you were transcribing “I went to the store, but I didn’t 
find anything to buy,” you would separate this into two utterances in 

**PAR: I went to the store. *

**PAR: but I didn’t find anything to buy. *

*Even though these two parts go together in a sentence, they would be 
separated into two utterances per the T-unit classification. *

*An example of a dependent and independent clause would be as follows: *

**PAR: If I show up late the teacher will give me a tardy. *

*In CHAT/CLAN, you also need to make a few judgement calls. *

*For example, in speech, we often start sentences with “because.” “Because” 
is typically at the beginning of a dependent clause in written 
communication; however, we use this to start sentences when speaking and 
thus a transcriber needs to decide whether the “because” is actually 
starting the sentence in a spoken utterance. *

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