Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Influence of causal language on causal understanding: A comparison between Swiss German and Turkish


Ger, Ebru; Stuber, Larissa; Küntay, Aylin C; Göksun, Tilbe; Stoll, Sabine; Daum, Moritz M (2021). Influence of causal language on causal understanding: A comparison between Swiss German and Turkish. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 210:105182.

Abstract

Young children have difficulties in understanding untypical causal relations. Although we know that hearing a causal description facilitates this understanding, less is known about what particular features of causal language are responsible for this facilitation. Here, we asked two questions. First, do syntactic and morphological cues in the grammatical structure of sentences facilitate the extraction of causal meaning? Second, do these different cues influence this facilitation to different degrees? We studied children learning either Swiss German or Turkish, two languages that differ in their expression of causality. Swiss German predominantly uses lexical causatives (e.g., schniidä [cut]), which lack a formal marker to denote causality. Turkish, alongside lexical causatives, uses morphological causatives, which formally mark causation (e.g., ye [eat] vs. yeDIr [feed]). We tested 2.5- to 3.5-year-old children’s understanding of untypical cause–effect relations described with either noncausal language (e.g., Here is a cube and a car) or causal language using a pseudo-verb (e.g., lexical: The cube gorps the car). We tested 135 Turkish-learning children (noncausal, lexical, and morphological conditions) and 90 Swiss-German-learning children (noncausal and lexical conditions). Children in both language groups performed better in the causal language condition(s) than in the noncausal language condition. Furthermore, Turkish-learning children’s performance in both the lexical and morphological conditions was similar to that of Swiss-German-learning children in the lexical condition and did not differ from each other. These findings suggest that the structural cues of causal language support children’s understanding of untypical causal relations regardless of the type of construction.

Abstract

Young children have difficulties in understanding untypical causal relations. Although we know that hearing a causal description facilitates this understanding, less is known about what particular features of causal language are responsible for this facilitation. Here, we asked two questions. First, do syntactic and morphological cues in the grammatical structure of sentences facilitate the extraction of causal meaning? Second, do these different cues influence this facilitation to different degrees? We studied children learning either Swiss German or Turkish, two languages that differ in their expression of causality. Swiss German predominantly uses lexical causatives (e.g., schniidä [cut]), which lack a formal marker to denote causality. Turkish, alongside lexical causatives, uses morphological causatives, which formally mark causation (e.g., ye [eat] vs. yeDIr [feed]). We tested 2.5- to 3.5-year-old children’s understanding of untypical cause–effect relations described with either noncausal language (e.g., Here is a cube and a car) or causal language using a pseudo-verb (e.g., lexical: The cube gorps the car). We tested 135 Turkish-learning children (noncausal, lexical, and morphological conditions) and 90 Swiss-German-learning children (noncausal and lexical conditions). Children in both language groups performed better in the causal language condition(s) than in the noncausal language condition. Furthermore, Turkish-learning children’s performance in both the lexical and morphological conditions was similar to that of Swiss-German-learning children in the lexical condition and did not differ from each other. These findings suggest that the structural cues of causal language support children’s understanding of untypical causal relations regardless of the type of construction.

Statistics

Citations

Dimensions.ai Metrics
2 citations in Web of Science®
2 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

17 downloads since deposited on 03 Jan 2022
17 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Comparative Language Science
06 Faculty of Arts > Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development
Special Collections > NCCR Evolving Language
Special Collections > Centers of Competence > Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language Evolution
Dewey Decimal Classification:490 Other languages
890 Other literatures
410 Linguistics
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Developmental and Educational Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Developmental and Educational Psychology, Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Language:English
Date:1 October 2021
Deposited On:03 Jan 2022 13:40
Last Modified:27 Sep 2022 11:38
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0022-0965
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2021.105182
Project Information:
  • : FunderSwiss National Science Foundation
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)