Functional elements in infants’ speech processing : the role of determiners in the syntactic categorization of lexical elements

  • How do children determine the syntactic category of novel words? In this article we present the results of 2 experiments that investigated whether German children between 12 and 16 months of age can use distributional knowledge that determiners precede nouns and subject pronouns precede verbs to syntactically categorize adjacent novel words. Evidence from the head-turn preference paradigm shows that, although 12- to 13-month-olds cannot do this, 14- to 16-month-olds are able to use a determiner to categorize a following novel word as a noun. In contrast, no categorization effect was found for a novel word following a subject pronoun. To understand this difference we analyzed adult child-directed speech. This analysis showed that there are in fact stronger co-occurrence relations between determiners and nouns than between subject pronouns and verbs. Thus, in German determiners may be more reliable cues to the syntactic category of an adjacent novel word than are subject pronouns. We propose that the capacity to syntactically categorizeHow do children determine the syntactic category of novel words? In this article we present the results of 2 experiments that investigated whether German children between 12 and 16 months of age can use distributional knowledge that determiners precede nouns and subject pronouns precede verbs to syntactically categorize adjacent novel words. Evidence from the head-turn preference paradigm shows that, although 12- to 13-month-olds cannot do this, 14- to 16-month-olds are able to use a determiner to categorize a following novel word as a noun. In contrast, no categorization effect was found for a novel word following a subject pronoun. To understand this difference we analyzed adult child-directed speech. This analysis showed that there are in fact stronger co-occurrence relations between determiners and nouns than between subject pronouns and verbs. Thus, in German determiners may be more reliable cues to the syntactic category of an adjacent novel word than are subject pronouns. We propose that the capacity to syntactically categorize novel words, demonstrated here for the first time in children this young, mediates between the recognition of the specific morphosyntactic frame in which a novel word appears and the word-to-world mapping that is needed to build up a semantic representation for the novel word.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Barbara Höhle, Jürgen Weissenborn, Dorothea Kiefer, Antje Schulz, Michaela Schmitz
URN:urn:nbn:de:kobv:517-opus-16285
Series (Serial Number):Postprints der Universität Potsdam : Humanwissenschaftliche Reihe, ISSN 1866-8364 (paper 023)
Document Type:Postprint
Language:English
Date of Publication (online):2008/01/25
Year of Completion:2004
Publishing Institution:Universität Potsdam
Release Date:2008/01/25
Source:Infancy. - Mahwah, NJ [u.a.] : Erlbaum, 5 (2004), 3, p. 341-353. - ISSN 1532-7078
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Linguistik / Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft
Extern / Extern
Dewey Decimal Classification:4 Sprache / 40 Sprache / 400 Sprache
Licence (English):License LogoCreative Commons - Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike 3.0 unported
Notes extern:
This is an electronic version of an article published in Infancy. - Mahwah, NJ [u.a.] : Erlbaum, 5 (2004), 3, p. 341-353
ISSN 1532-7078
Infancy is available online at informaworldTM .