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German children's comprehension of word order and case marking in causative sentences


Dittmar, M; Abbot-Smith, K; Lieven, E; Tomasello, M (2008). German children's comprehension of word order and case marking in causative sentences. Child Development, 79(4):1152-1167.

Abstract

Two comprehension experiments were conducted to investigate whether German children are able to use the grammatical cues of word order and word endings (case-markers) to identify agents and patients in a causative sentence, and whether they weigh these two cues differently across development. Two-year-olds correctly understood only sentences with both cues supporting each other – the prototypical form. Five-year-olds were able to use word order by itself, but not case-markers. Only seven-year-olds behaved like adults by relying on case-markers over word order when the two cues conflicted. These findings suggest that prototypical instances of linguistic constructions with redundant grammatical marking play a special role in early acquisition, and only later do children isolate and weigh individual grammatical cues appropriately.

Abstract

Two comprehension experiments were conducted to investigate whether German children are able to use the grammatical cues of word order and word endings (case-markers) to identify agents and patients in a causative sentence, and whether they weigh these two cues differently across development. Two-year-olds correctly understood only sentences with both cues supporting each other – the prototypical form. Five-year-olds were able to use word order by itself, but not case-markers. Only seven-year-olds behaved like adults by relying on case-markers over word order when the two cues conflicted. These findings suggest that prototypical instances of linguistic constructions with redundant grammatical marking play a special role in early acquisition, and only later do children isolate and weigh individual grammatical cues appropriately.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2008
Deposited On:23 Dec 2008 13:57
Last Modified:06 Dec 2017 16:13
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:1467-8624
Additional Information:The attached file is a preprint (accepted version) of an article published in Child Development 79(4):1152-1167.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01181.x

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