MLU and IPSyn measuring absolute complexity

Lea Nieminen


This article compares the results of Mean Length of Utterance (MLU) and Index of Productive Syntax (IPSyn) with the structural complexity of spontaneous utterances produced by 30-month-old Finnish children in a semi-structured playing situation. The comparison was carried out in order to determine the aspects of structural complexity which can be detected with MLU and IPSyn. This research adopts the frameworks of absolute complexity together with a multidimensional view of utterance structure and, furthermore, applies it through Utterance Analysis (UA). The results of the comparison between the metrics and changes in structural complexity discovered by UA reveal that MLU and IPSyn do function as measures of structural complexity but only if used in close relation to each other. Because they focus on different aspects of utterances, the results of both metrics should be interpreted in relation to one another.



morphosyntax; acquisition; structural complexity; child language; Finnish

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Copyright (c) 2012 Lea Nieminen

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ISSN 1736-2563 (print)
ISSN 2228-0677 (online)
DOI 10.5128/ERYa.1736-2563