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Journal of Child Language

Tuomo Häikiö, Seppo Vainio
Finnish is a language with simple syllable structure but rich morphology. It was investigated whether syllables or morphemes are preferred processing units in early reading. To this end, Finnish first- and second-grade children read sentences with embedded inflected target words while their eye-movements were registered. The target words were either in essive or inessive/adessive (i.e., locative) case. The target words were either non-hyphenated, or had syllable-congruent or syllable-incongruent hyphenation...
May 16, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Tomoko Tatsumi, Ben Ambridge, Julian M Pine
This study tested the claim of input-based accounts of language acquisition that children's inflectional errors reflect competition between different forms of the same verb in memory. In order to distinguish this claim from the claim that inflectional errors reflect the use of a morphosyntactic default, we focused on the Japanese verb system, which shows substantial by-verb variation in the frequency distribution of past and nonpast forms. 22 children aged 3;2-5;8 (Study 1) and 26 children aged 2;7-4;11 (Study 2) completed elicited production studies designed to elicit past and nonpast forms of 20 verbs (past-biased and nonpast-biased)...
May 11, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Catherine Davies, Helene Kreysa
Children's ability to refer is underpinned by their developing cognitive skills. Using a production task (n = 57), we examined pre-articulatory visual fixations to contrast objects (e.g., to a large apple when the target was a small one) to investigate how visual scanning drives informativeness across development. Eye-movements reveal that although four-year-olds fixate contrast objects to a similar extent as seven-year-olds and adults, this does not result in explicit referential informativeness. Instead, four-year-olds frequently omit distinguishing information from their referring expressions regardless of the comprehensiveness of their visual scan...
May 9, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Simon Snape, Andrea Krott
Young children are conservative when extending novel verbs to novel exemplars. We investigated whether multiple, simultaneously presented exemplars would aid young children's verb learning, as well as the importance of exemplar variability. Three-year-olds were taught novel verbs, while viewing either one action-scene featuring a novel action performed on a novel object, or two action-scenes side-by-side in which the action performed was the same but the object varied, or two action-scenes side-by-side in which no aspect of the scenes varied...
May 9, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Jing Yang
This study compared the temporal measurements of stop consonants in 29 three- to six-year-old Mandarin-speaking children and 12 Mandarin-speaking adults. Each participant produced 18 Mandarin disyllabic words which contained six stop consonants /p, pʰ, t, tʰ, k, kʰ/ each followed by three vowels /a, i, u/ at the word-initial position in the first syllable. The temporal measurements of VOT, overall burst duration, average duration per burst, number of bursts, and VOT-lag duration were obtained. Although adult-like short-lag VOTs were achieved in all children, the long-lag VOTs were widespread in the younger group and gradually developed to a concentrated distribution in the older children...
April 18, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Dorthe Bleses, Werner Vach, Philip S Dale
Vocabulary input frequency influences age of acquisition, and is also an essential control for investigating the influence of other factors. We propose a new method of frequency estimation, self-report. 918 Danish-speaking parents of 12-36-month-old children estimated their frequency of use of 725 words. Self-report was substantially correlated with both language sample based frequencies (0.67) and frequencies of a large written corpus of Danish (0.58). Correlations within vocabulary categories between frequency and age of acquisition, restricted to words occurring in the language samples, were comparable for the two estimates...
April 15, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Myrthe Bergstra, Hannah N M DE Mulder, Peter Coopmans
This study investigated how speaker certainty (a rational cue) and speaker benevolence (an emotional cue) influence children's willingness to learn words in a selective learning paradigm. In two experiments four- to six-year-olds learnt novel labels from two speakers and, after a week, their memory for these labels was reassessed. Results demonstrated that children retained the label-object pairings for at least a week. Furthermore, children preferred to learn from certain over uncertain speakers, but they had no significant preference for nice over nasty speakers...
April 6, 2018: Journal of Child Language
Tessa Bent
School-age children's understanding of unfamiliar accents is not adult-like and the age at which this ability fully matures is unknown. To address this gap, eight- to fifteen-year-old children's (n = 74) understanding of native- and non-native-accented sentences in quiet and noise was assessed. Children's performance was adult-like by eleven to twelve years for the native accent in noise and by fourteen to fifteen years for the non-native accent in quiet. However, fourteen- to fifteen-year old's performance was not adult-like for the non-native accent in noise...
April 5, 2018: 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
Jessica Hall, Amanda Owen VAN Horne, Thomas Farmer
The goal of this study was to determine if typically developing children could form grammatical categories from distributional information alone. Twenty-seven children aged six to nine listened to an artificial grammar which contained strategic gaps in its distribution. At test, we compared how children rated novel sentences that fit the grammar to sentences that were ungrammatical. Sentences could be distinguished only through the formation of categories of words with shared distributional properties. Children's ratings revealed that they could discriminate grammatical and ungrammatical sentences...
May 2018: Journal of Child Language
Franziska Köder, Emar Maier
Children struggle with the interpretation of pronouns in direct speech (Ann said, "I get a cookie"), but not in indirect speech (Ann said that she gets a cookie) (Köder & Maier, 2016). Yet children's books consistently favor direct over indirect speech (Baker & Freebody, 1989). To reconcile these seemingly contradictory findings, we hypothesize that the poor performance found by Köder and Maier (2016) is due to the information-transmission setting of that experiment, and that a narrative setting facilitates children's processing of direct speech...
March 2018: Journal of Child Language
Josefin Lindgren
This study investigates effects of age on character introductions in the oral narratives of seventy-two monolingual Swedish-speaking four- to six-year-olds, comparing results from the Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives (MAIN; Gagarina et al., 2012, 2015), and the Edmonton Narrative Norms Instrument (ENNI; Schneider et al., 2005). The proportion of appropriate referring expressions for introducing story characters clearly increases from age four to six. However, the children's performance is strongly stimulus-dependent...
March 2018: Journal of Child Language
Vikki Janke
Non-obligatory control constructions (NOC) are sentences which contain a non-finite clause with a null subject whose reference is determined pragmatically. Little is known about how children assign reference to these subjects, yet this is important as our current understanding of reference-resolution development is limited to less complex sentences with overt elements, such as pronouns. This study explores how seventy-six children (aged six to eleven) consult pragmatic leads when assigning reference in two examples of NOC...
March 2018: Journal of Child Language
Rebecca Treiman, Kristina Decker, Sarah Robins, Dina Ghosh, Nicole Rosales
Conversations about literacy-related matters with parents can help prepare children for formal literacy instruction. We studied these conversations using data gathered from fifty-six US families as they engaged in daily activities at home. Analyzing conversations when children were aged 1;10, 2;6, 3;6, and 4;2, we found that explicit talk about the elements and processes of reading and writing occurred even when children were less than two years old and became more common as children grew older. The majority of literacy-related conversations included talk about alphabet letters...
March 2018: Journal of Child Language
Carla Contemori, Matthew Carlson, Theodoros Marinis
Previous research has shown that children demonstrate similar sentence processing reflexes to those observed in adults, but they have difficulties revising an erroneous initial interpretation when they process garden-path sentences, passives, and wh-questions. We used the visual-world paradigm to examine children's use of syntactic and non-syntactic information to resolve syntactic ambiguity by extending our understanding of number features as a cue for interpretation to which-subject and which-object questions...
March 2018: Journal of Child Language
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