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Journal of Child Language

Pauline Frizelle, Clodagh O'Neill, Dorothy V M Bishop
Although sentence repetition is considered a reliable measure of children's grammatical knowledge, few studies have directly compared children's sentence repetition performance with their understanding of grammatical structures. The current study aimed to compare children's performance on these two assessment measures, using a multiple-choice picture-matching sentence comprehension task and a sentence repetition task. Thirty-three typically developing children completed both assessments, which included relative clauses representing a range of syntactic roles...
January 16, 2017: Journal of Child Language
Naomi Havron, Inbal Arnon
Can emergent literacy impact the size of the linguistic units children attend to? We examined children's ability to segment multiword sequences before and after they learned to read, in order to disentangle the effect of literacy and age on segmentation. We found that early readers were better at segmenting multiword units (after controlling for age, cognitive, and linguistic variables), and that improvement in literacy skills between the two sessions predicted improvement in segmentation abilities. Together, these findings suggest that literacy acquisition, rather than age, enhanced segmentation...
January 9, 2017: Journal of Child Language
Lucia Colombo, Eduardo Navarrete, Barbara Arfé
Noun and verb acquisition was investigated in three- and five-year-old Italian children by means of picture naming of objects and actions, selected from Druks and Masterson (2000). The aim was to examine the previously reported advantage of nouns compared to verbs. Older children were faster than younger children, and naming latencies were faster for object pictures than for action pictures. For errors, the advantage of objects over actions was greater for younger children. A qualitative analysis of errors was carried out according to a classification derived by Masterson, Druks, and Gallienne (2008)...
December 20, 2016: Journal of Child Language
Kelly M Hartman, Nan Bernstein Ratner, Rochelle S Newman
There have been many studies examining the differences between infant-directed speech (IDS) and adult-directed speech (ADS). However, investigations asking whether mothers clarify vowel articulation in IDS have reached equivocal findings. Moreover, it is unclear whether maternal speech clarification has any effect on a child's developing language skills. This study examined vowel clarification in mothers' IDS at 0;10-11, 1;6, and 2;0, as compared to their vowel production in ADS. Relationships between vowel space, vowel duration, and vowel variability and child language outcomes at two years were also explored...
December 16, 2016: 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
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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