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Journal of Child Language

Natalia Mitrofanova, Marit Westergaard
This paper focuses on the acquisition of locative prepositional phrases in L1 Norwegian. We report on two production experiments with children acquiring Norwegian as their first language and compare the results to similar experiments conducted with Russian children. The results of the experiments show that Norwegian children at age 2 regularly produce locative utterances lacking overt prepositions, with the rate of preposition omission decreasing significantly by age 3. Furthermore, our results suggest that phonologically strong and semantically unambiguous locative items appear earlier in Norwegian children's utterances than their phonologically weak and semantically ambiguous counterparts...
March 15, 2018: Journal of Child Language
J Marc Goodrich, Christopher J Lonigan
This study evaluated the development of vocabulary knowledge over the course of two academic years, beginning in preschool, in a large sample (N = 944) of language-minority children using scores from single-language vocabulary assessments and conceptual scores. Results indicated that although children began the study with higher raw scores for Spanish vocabulary knowledge than for English vocabulary knowledge, this was reversed by the end of the first year of the study. Similarly, at the beginning of the study unique Spanish vocabulary scores were larger than unique English or shared Spanish-English vocabulary scores; however, by the end of the first year of the study children's shared Spanish-English vocabulary scores were larger than unique English vocabulary scores, which were larger than unique Spanish vocabulary scores...
March 12, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Insa Gülzow, Victoria Bartlitz, Milena Kuehnast, Felix Golcher, Dagmar Bittner
We analyzed the conversational corpora of two German and two English children to investigate how the different use types of the adversative connectives aber and but influence the probability of monologically versus dialogically constructed utterances in the first year of use. Our findings show that children produce adversative connectives mainly in dialogic structures for illocutionary and theme-management purposes, but that the use types of adversative connectives lead to a different distribution of monologic and dialogic clause combinations...
March 9, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Ann M Weber, Virginia A Marchman, Yatma Diop, Anne Fernald
Valid indigenous language assessments are needed to further our understanding of how children learn language around the world. We assessed the psychometric properties and performance of two caregiver-report measures of Wolof language skill (language milestones achieved and vocabulary knowledge) for 500 children (ages 0;4 to 2;6) living in rural Senegal. Item response models (IRM) evaluated instrument- and item-level performance and differential function by gender. Both caregiver-report measures had good psychometric properties and displayed expected age and socioeconomic effects...
March 9, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Marina Kalashnikova, Denis Burnham
This longitudinal study assessed three acoustic components of maternal infant-directed speech (IDS) - pitch, affect, and vowel hyperarticulation - in relation to infants' age and their expressive vocabulary size. These three individual components were measured in IDS addressed to infants at 7, 9, 11, 15, and 19 months (N = 18). All three components were exaggerated at all ages in mothers' IDS compared to their adult-directed speech. Importantly, the only significant predictor of infants' expressive vocabulary size at 15 and 19 months was vowel hyperarticulation, but only at 9 months and beyond, not at 7 months, and not pitch or affect at any age...
March 5, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Hyesung G Hwang, Lori Markson
Children categorize native-accented speakers as local and non-native-accented speakers as foreign, suggesting they use accent (i.e., phonological proficiency) to determine social group membership. However, it is unclear if accent is the strongest - and only - group marker children use to determine social group membership, or whether other aspects of language, such as syntax and semantics, are also important markers. To test this, five- to eight-year-old monolingual English-speaking children were asked to judge whether individuals who varied in phonological, syntactic, and semantic proficiency were local or foreign...
March 2, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Stephanie L Archer, Suzanne Curtin
During the first two years of life, infants concurrently refine native-language speech categories and word learning skills. However, in the Switch Task, 14-month-olds do not detect minimal contrasts in a novel object-word pairing (Stager & Werker, 1997). We investigate whether presenting infants with acoustically salient contrasts (liquids) facilitates success in the Switch Task. The first two experiments demonstrate that acoustic differences boost infants' detection of contrasts. However, infants cannot detect the contrast when the segments are digitally shortened...
February 21, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Jessica F Schwab, Casey Lew-Williams, Adele E Goldberg
Children tend to regularize their productions when exposed to artificial languages, an advantageous response to unpredictable variation. But generalizations in natural languages are typically conditioned by factors that children ultimately learn. In two experiments, adult and six-year-old learners witnessed two novel classifiers, probabilistically conditioned by semantics. Whereas adults displayed high accuracy in their productions - applying the semantic criteria to familiar and novel items - children were oblivious to the semantic conditioning...
February 21, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Berna A Uzundag, Süleyman S Taşçi, Aylin C Küntay, Ayhan Aksu-Koç
In languages with evidential marking, utterances consist of an informational content and a specification of the mode of access to that information. In this first longitudinal study investigating the acquisition of the Turkish evidential marker -mIş in naturalistic child-caregiver interactions, we examined six children between 8 and 36 months of age. We charted individual differences in child and caregiver speech over time by conducting growth curve analyses. Children followed a similar course of acquisition in terms of the proportion of the marker in overall speech...
February 21, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Yair Haendler, Flavia Adani
Previous studies have found that Hebrew-speaking children accurately comprehend object relatives (OR) with an embedded non-referential arbitrary subject pronoun (ASP). The facilitation of ORs with embedded pronouns is expected both from a discourse-pragmatics perspective and within a syntax-based locality approach. However, the specific effect of ASP might also be driven by a mismatch in grammatical features between the head noun and the pronoun, or by its relatively undemanding referential properties. We tested these possibilities by comparing ORs whose embedded subject is either ASP, a referential pronoun, or a lexical noun phrase...
February 19, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Shruti Dave, Ann M Mastergeorge, Lesley B Olswang
Responsive parental communication during an infant's first year has been positively associated with later language outcomes. This study explores responsivity in mother-infant communication by modeling how change in guiding language between 7 and 11 months influences toddler vocabulary development. In a group of 32 mother-child dyads, change in early maternal guiding language positively predicted child language outcomes measured at 18 and 24 months. In contrast, a number of other linguistic variables - including total utterances and non-guiding language - did not correlate with toddler vocabulary development, suggesting a critical role of responsive change in infant-directed communication...
February 19, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Marta Álvarez-Cañizo, Paz Suárez-Coalla, Fernando Cuetos
Several studies have found that, after repeated exposure to new words, children form orthographic representations that allow them to read those words faster and more fluently. However, these studies did not take into account variables related to the words. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of sublexical variables on the formation of orthographic representations of words by Spanish children. The first experiment used pseudo-words of varying syllabic structure and syllabic frequency. The stimuli for the second experiment were formed with or without context-dependent graphemes...
February 19, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Xiangjun Deng, Virginia Yip
This study investigates Mandarin-speaking children's knowledge of event semantics in interpreting spatial modifiers with zai 'at' after a posture verb or before a placement verb. The event-semantic principles investigated include subevent modification (Parsons, 1990) and aspect shift (Fong, 1997). We conducted an experimental study using modified forced choice, video choice, and elicited production techniques with five groups of children (two- to six-year-olds) and an adult control group. Three-year-olds were sensitive to the ambiguity of zai-PPs with placement verbs and posture verbs, suggesting guidance from principles of aspect shift and subevent modification...
February 15, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Angel Chan, Wenchun Yang, Franklin Chang, Evan Kidd
We report on an eye-tracking study that investigated four-year-old Cantonese-speaking children's online processing of subject and object relative clauses (RCs). Children's eye-movements were recorded as they listened to RC structures identifying a unique referent (e.g. "Can you pick up the horse that pushed the pig?"). Two RC types, classifier (CL) and ge3 RCs, were tested in a between-participants design. The two RC types differ in their syntactic analyses and frequency of occurrence, providing an important point of comparison for theories of RC acquisition and processing...
January 2018: Journal of Child Language
Beyza Ş Ateş, Aylin C Küntay
This paper examines the way children younger than two use non-verbal devices (i.e., deictic gestures and communicative functional acts) and pay attention to discourse status (i.e., prior mention vs. newness) of referents in interactions with caregivers. Data based on semi-naturalistic interactions with caregivers of four children, at ages 1;00, 1;05, and 1;09, are analyzed. We report that children employ different types of non-verbal devices to supplement their inadequate referential forms before gaining mastery in language...
January 2018: Journal of Child Language
Casey L Taliancich-Klinger, Lisa M Bedore, Elizabeth D Peña
Preposition knowledge is important for academic success. The goal of this project was to examine how different variables such as English input and output, Spanish preposition score, mother education level, and age of English exposure (AoEE) may have played a role in children's preposition knowledge in English. 148 Spanish-English children between 7;0 and 9;11 produced prepositions in English and Spanish on a sentence repetition task from an experimental version of the Bilingual English Spanish Assessment Middle Extension (Peña, Bedore, Gutierrez-Clellen, Iglesias & Goldstein, in development)...
January 2018: Journal of Child Language
Paola Bonifacci, Margherita Barbieri, Marta Tomassini, Maja Roch
The aim of this study was to compare linguistic and narrative skills of monolingual and bilingual preschoolers and to estimate linguistic predictors of the macro-structural level of narratives. A battery of linguistic measures in Italian was administered to sixty-four Monolinguals and sixty-four Early Bilinguals; it included Vocabulary, Phonological Awareness, Morphosyntactic Comprehension, Phonological Memory, Letter Knowledge, and Story Sequencing tasks. The narratives produced in the Story Sequencing task were coded...
January 2018: Journal of Child Language
Lyn Tieu, Jacopo Romoli, Eva Poortman, Yoad Winter, Stephen Crain
Previous developmental studies of conjunction have focused on the syntax of phrasal and sentential coordination (Lust, 1977; de Villiers, Tager-Flusberg & Hakuta, 1977; Bloom, Lahey, Hood, Lifter & Fiess, 1980, among others). The present study examined the flexibility of children's interpretation of conjunction. Specifically, when two predicates that can apply simultaneously to a single individual are conjoined in the scope of a plural definite (The bears are big and white), conjunction receives a Boolean, intersective interpretation...
January 2018: Journal of Child Language
Kriszta Szendrői, Carline Bernard, Frauke Berger, Judit Gervain, Barbara Höhle
Previous research on young children's knowledge of prosodic focus marking has revealed an apparent paradox, with comprehension appearing to lag behind production. Comprehension of prosodic focus is difficult to study experimentally due to its subtle and ambiguous contribution to pragmatic meaning. We designed a novel comprehension task, which revealed that three- to six-year-old children show adult-like comprehension of the prosodic marking of subject and object focus. Our findings thus support the view that production does not precede comprehension in the acquisition of focus...
January 2018: Journal of Child Language
Marc Aguert, Coralie LE Vallois, Karine Martel, Virginie Laval
Hyperbole supports irony comprehension in adults by heightening the contrast between what is said and the actual situation. Because young children do not perceive the communication situation as a whole, but rather give precedence to either the utterance or the context, we predicted that hyperbole would reduce irony comprehension in six-year-olds (n = 40) by overemphasizing what was said. By contrast, ten-year-olds (n = 40) would benefit from hyperbole in the way that adults do, as they would perceive the utterance and context as a whole, highlighted by the speaker's ironic intent...
January 2018: Journal of Child Language
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