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Effects of focus and definiteness on children's word order

  • Two experiments tested how faithfully German children aged 4; 5 to 5; 6 reproduce ditransitive sentences that are unmarked or marked with respect to word order and focus (Exp1) or definiteness (Exp2). Adopting an optimality theory (OT) approach, it is assumed that in the German adult grammar word order is ranked lower than focus and definiteness. Faithfulness of children's reproductions decreased as markedness of inputs increased; unmarked structures were reproduced most faithfully and unfaithful outputs had most often an unmarked form. Consistent with the OT proposal, children were more tolerant against inputs marked for word order than for focus; in conflict with the proposal, children were less tolerant against inputs marked for word order than for definiteness. Our results suggest that the linearization of objects in German double object constructions is affected by focus and definiteness, but that prosodic principles may have an impact on the position of a focused constituent.

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Author:Barbara HöhleGND, Robin Hörnig, Thomas Weskott, Selene Knauf, Agnes Krüger
Parent Title (English):Postprints der Universität Potsdam Humanwissenschaftliche Reihe
Subtitle (English):evidence from German five-year-olds' reproductions of double object constructions
Series (Serial Number):Postprints der Universität Potsdam : Humanwissenschaftliche Reihe (511)
Document Type:Postprint
Date of first Publication:2019/01/25
Year of Completion:2014
Publishing Institution:Universität Potsdam
Release Date:2019/01/25
Tag:acquisition; animacy; constraints; grammar; indefinite articles; information; language; preschool-children; sentences; stress
Source:Journal of Child Language 41 (2014) 4, S. 780–810 DOI: 10.1017/S0305000913000196
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
4 Sprache / 40 Sprache / 400 Sprache
Peer Review:Referiert
Publication Way:Open Access
Grantor:Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Licence (German):License LogoKeine Nutzungslizenz vergeben - es gilt das deutsche Urheberrecht
Notes extern:Bibliographieeintrag der Originalveröffentlichung/Quelle