Syntactic Complexity Measure?

Brian MacWhinney macw at cmu.edu
Fri Jun 12 16:20:34 UTC 2015


Dear Kim,

    None of the current versions of either the CHAT or CLAN manuals includes the material you are citing.  Perhaps you are working with some old version of the manual or perhaps some locally-prepared guideliness.  Best to get new versions from the web.
  
    There are other ways, besides t-units,  to look at syntactic complexity.  MLU is not bad for children or aphasics, but I don’t yet know about AD.  CLAN also includes the IPSyn and DSS programs, but again they are really targeted to studies of language development.  Recently we introduced the CPIDR propositional density measure which played a big role in the Nun’s Study for AD.  Perhaps that would be useful in your case.   All of these measures require you to have first run MOR on your transcript to create a %mor line.  

—Brian MacWhinney

> On Jun 12, 2015, at 10:13 AM, Kimberly Mueller <digglekim at gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> 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,
> Kim
> 
> 
> 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 CHAT/CLAN.
> 
> *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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