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Journal of Child Language

Matt Hilton, Gert Westermann
This study set out to examine whether shyness, an aversion to novelty and unfamiliar social situations, can affect the processes that underlie early word learning. Twenty-four-month-old children (n =32) were presented with sets of one novel and two familiar objects, and it was found that shyer children were less likely to select a novel object as the referent of a novel label. Furthermore, not-shy children then showed evidence of retaining these novel mappings, but shy children did not. These findings suggest that shy children's aversion to novelty and to the unfamiliar context can impact on their word learning...
December 5, 2016: Journal of Child Language
Fei Chen, Gang Peng, Nan Yan, Lan Wang
To track the course of development in children's fine-grained perception of Mandarin tones, the present study explored how categorical perception (CP) of Mandarin tones emerges along age among 70 four- to seven-year-old children and 16 adults. Prominent discrimination peaks were found for both the child and the adult groups, and they were well aligned with the corresponding identification crossovers. Moreover, six-year-olds showed a much narrower width (i.e. a sharper slope) compared to younger children, and have already acquired adult-like identification competence of Mandarin high-level and mid-rising tones...
December 5, 2016: Journal of Child Language
Dorit Ravid, Lizzy Vered
The current study examined the production of Hebrew verbal passives across adolescence as mediated by linguistic register and verb morphology. Participants aged eight to sixteen years and a group of adults were asked to change written active-voice sentences into corresponding passive-voice forms, divided by verb register (neutral and high), binyan pattern (Qal / Nif'al, Hif'il / Huf'al, and Pi'el / Pu'al), and verb tense (past and future tense). Results showed that Hebrew passive morphology is a very late acquisition, almost a decade later than in other languages, that passivizing neutral-register verbs was less challenging than high-register verbs, and that past tense verbs were easier to passivize than future tense verbs...
November 17, 2016: Journal of Child Language
Françoise Brosseau-Lapré, Susan Rvachew
This study examined the psycholinguistic profiles of Quebec French-speaking children with developmental phonological disorders (DPD). The purpose was to determine whether the endophenotypes that have been identified in English-speaking children with DPD are similarly associated with speech impairment in French-speaking children. Seventy-two children with DPD and ten children with normally developing speech, aged four to six years, received a comprehensive assessment battery that included measures at the phenotype level (i...
November 17, 2016: Journal of Child Language
Ilke DE Clerck, Michèle Pettinato, J O Verhoeven, Steven Gillis
This study investigated the relation between lexical development and the production of prosodic prominence in disyllabic babble and words. Monthly recordings from nine typically developing Belgian-Dutch-speaking infants were analyzed from the onset of babbling until a cumulative vocabulary of 200 words was reached. The differentiation between the two syllables of isolated disyllabic utterances was computed for f0, intensity, and duration measurements. Results showed that the ambient trochaic pattern emerged in babble, but became enhanced in words...
November 16, 2016: Journal of Child Language
Hong Li, Vedran Dronjic, X I Chen, Yixun Li, Yahua Cheng, Xinchun Wu
This study investigates the contributions of semantic, phonological, and orthographic factors to morphological awareness of 413 Chinese-speaking students in Grades 2, 4, and 6, and its relationship with reading comprehension. Participants were orally presented with pairs of bimorphemic compounds and asked to judge whether the first morphemes of the words shared a meaning. Morpheme identity (same or different), whole-word semantic relatedness (high or low), orthography (same or different), and phonology (same or different) were manipulated...
November 16, 2016: Journal of Child Language
Brock Ferguson, Sandra Waxman
Language exerts a powerful influence on our concepts. We review evidence documenting the developmental origins of a precocious link between language and object categories in very young infants. This collection of studies documents a cascading process in which early links between language and cognition provide the foundation for later, more precise ones. We propose that, early in life, language promotes categorization at least in part through its status as a social, communicative signal. But over the first year, infants home in on the referential power of language and, by their second year, begin teasing apart distinct kinds of names (e...
November 10, 2016: Journal of Child Language
Susan A Graham, Valerie San Juan, Melanie Khu
When linguistic information alone does not clarify a speaker's intended meaning, skilled communicators can draw on a variety of cues to infer communicative intent. In this paper, we review research examining the developmental emergence of preschoolers' sensitivity to a communicative partner's perspective. We focus particularly on preschoolers' tendency to use cues both within the communicative context (i.e. a speaker's visual access to information) and within the speech signal itself (i.e. emotional prosody) to make on-line inferences about communicative intent...
November 7, 2016: Journal of Child Language
Elisabeth Engberg-Pedersen, Rikke Vang Christensen
This study focuses on the relationship between content elements and mental-state language in narratives from twenty-seven children with autism (ASD), twelve children with language impairment (LI), and thirty typically developing children (TD). The groups did not differ on chronological age (10;6-14;0) and non-verbal cognitive skills, and the groups with ASD and TD did not differ on language measures. The children with ASD and LI had fewer content elements of the storyline than the TD children. Compared with the TD children, the children with ASD used fewer subordinate clauses about the characters' thoughts, and preferred talking about mental states as reported speech, especially in the form of direct speech...
November 2, 2016: Journal of Child Language
Carla L Hudson Kam, Lisa Matthewson
Studies on the relationship between bookreading and language development typically lack data about which books are actually read to children. This paper reports on an Internet survey designed to address this data gap. The resulting dataset (the Infant Bookreading Database or IBDb) includes responses from 1,107 caregivers of children aged 0-36 months who answered questions about the English-language books they most commonly read to their children. The inclusion of demographic information enables analysis of subsets of data based on age, sex, or caregivers' education level...
November 2, 2016: Journal of Child Language
Joanne Arciuli, Kirrie J Ballard
Lexical stress is the contrast between strong and weak syllables within words. Ballard et al. (2012) examined the amount of stress contrastivity across adjacent syllables in word productions of typically developing three- to seven-year-olds and adults. Here, eight- to eleven-year-olds are compared with the adults from Ballard et al. using acoustic measurements of relative contrast in duration, peak intensity, and peak fundamental frequency of the vowels within the initial two syllables of each word. While eight- to eleven-year-olds are closer to adult-like stress contrastivity than three- to seven-year-olds, they are not yet adult-like in terms of the intensity contrast for words beginning with a weak syllable...
October 21, 2016: Journal of Child Language
Anneleen BODERé, Koen Jaspaert
Recent research indicates that infants can learn novel words equally well through addressed speech as through overhearing two adult experimenters. The current study examined to which extent six-year-old children learn from overhearing opportunities in regular kindergarten classroom practices. Fifty-three children (M age = 5;6) were exposed to a story with twelve novel words in three different conditions. In the Addressed condition, children were directly addressed to listen to the story. In the Overhearing Classroom, the children were assigned to a task within earshot of the children of the Addressed condition...
October 17, 2016: Journal of Child Language
Olivier Mascaro, Olivier Morin, Dan Sperber
We suggest that preschoolers' frequent obliviousness to the risks and opportunities of deception comes from a trusting stance supporting verbal communication. Three studies (N = 125) confirm this hypothesis. Three-year-olds can hide information from others (Study 1) and they can lie (Study 2) in simple settings. Yet when one introduces the possibility of informing others in the very same settings, three-year-olds tend to be honest (Studies 1 and 2). Similarly, four-year-olds, though capable of treating assertions as false, trust deceptive informants (Study 3)...
October 17, 2016: Journal of Child Language
Catherine E Laing, Marilyn Vihman, Tamar Keren-Portnoy
Onomatopoeia are frequently identified amongst infants' earliest words (Menn & Vihman, 2011), yet few authors have considered why this might be, and even fewer have explored this phenomenon empirically. Here we analyze mothers' production of onomatopoeia in infant-directed speech (IDS) to provide an input-based perspective on these forms. Twelve mothers were recorded interacting with their 8-month-olds; onomatopoeic words (e.g. quack) were compared acoustically with their corresponding conventional words (duck)...
September 27, 2016: Journal of Child Language
Hui Li, Mengguo Jing, Eileen Chin Mei Wong
This study examined the development of and possible predictors of interrogative forms and functions in early childhood Mandarin. All the interrogatives drawn from the Early Child Mandarin Corpus (168 children 2;6, 3;6, 4;6, and 5;6) were analyzed. The main results indicated that (i) there were significant age effects in interrogative forms and functions, with the periods between the ages of 3;6 and 4;6 and between the ages of 2;6 and 3;6 being critical in the early acquisition of interrogative forms and functions, respectively; (ii) the form-function preference was verified, with wh-questions being primarily used to seek information (RfI), and intonation/echo and rhetorical questions being used to request action (RfA); (iii) more than half (59·5%) of the Mandarin interrogatives were used for RfI, whereas only 38·9% of them were used for RfA; and (iv) age, TV viewing time, and parent-child conversation time were the significant predictors of interrogative development...
January 2017: Journal of Child Language
Ramona Kunene Nicolas, Michèle Guidetti, Jean-Marc Colletta
The present study reports on a developmental and cross-linguistic study of oral narratives produced by speakers of Zulu (a Bantu language) and French (a Romance language). Specifically, we focus on oral narrative performance as a bimodal (i.e., linguistic and gestural) behaviour during the late language acquisition phase. We analyzed seventy-two oral narratives produced by L1 Zulu and French adults and primary school children aged between five and ten years old. The data were all collected using a narrative retelling task...
January 2017: Journal of Child Language
Kristi Hendrickson, Megha Sundara
The majority of research examining infants' decontextualized word knowledge comes from studies in which words and pictures are presented simultaneously. However, comprehending utterances about unseen objects is a hallmark of language. Do infants demonstrate decontextualized absent object knowledge early in the second year of life? Further, to what extent do words evoke strictly prototypical representations of absent objects? To investigate these questions we analyzed 14-month-olds' comprehension of labels for absent entities without contextual support...
January 2017: Journal of Child Language
Ingrid L Falkum, Marta Recasens, Eve V Clark
This study investigates preschoolers' ability to understand and produce novel metonyms. We gave forty-seven children (aged 2;9-5;9) and twenty-seven adults one comprehension task and two elicitation tasks. The first elicitation task investigated their ability to use metonyms as referential shorthands, and the second their willingness to name animates metonymically on the basis of a salient property. Although children were outperformed by adults, even three-year-olds could understand and produce metonyms in certain circumstances...
January 2017: Journal of Child Language
Marilyn Vihman, Marinella Majorano
Infants learning languages with long consonants, or geminates, have been found to 'overselect' and 'overproduce' these consonants in early words and also to commonly omit the word-initial consonant. A production study with thirty Italian children recorded at 1;3 and 1;9 strongly confirmed both of these tendencies. To test the hypothesis that it is the salience of the medial geminate that detracts attention from the initial consonant we conducted three experiments with 11-month-old Italian infants. We first established baseline word-form recognition for untrained familiar trochaic disyllables and then tested for word-form recognition, separately for words with geminates and singletons, after changing the initial consonant to create nonwords from both familiar and rare forms...
January 2017: Journal of Child Language
Barbora Skarabela, Mitsuhiko Ota
Children use pronouns in their speech from the earliest word combinations. Yet, it is not clear from these early utterances whether they understand that pronouns are used as substitutes for nouns and entities in the discourse. The aim of this study was to examine whether young children understand the anaphoric function of pronouns, focusing on the interpretation of the pronoun it in English-speaking children at 1;6 and 2;0. We tested whether adults and children would prefer to look at a previously introduced vs...
January 2017: Journal of Child Language
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