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Do typological differences in the expression of causality influence preschool children’s causal event construal?


Ger, Ebru; Küntay, Aylin C; Göksun, Tilbe; Stoll, Sabine; Daum, Moritz M (2022). Do typological differences in the expression of causality influence preschool children’s causal event construal? Language and Cognition, 14(2):161-184.

Abstract

This study investigated whether cross-linguistic differences in causal expressions influence the mapping of causal language on causal events in three- to four-year-old Swiss-German learners and Turkish learners. In Swiss-German, causality is mainly expressed syntactically with lexical causatives (e.g., ässe ‘to eat’ vs. füettere ‘to feed’). In Turkish, causality is expressed both syntactically and morphologically – with a verbal suffix (e.g., yemek ‘to eat’ vs. yeDIRmek ‘to feed’). Moreover, unlike Swiss-German, Turkish allows argument ellipsis (e.g., ‘The mother feeds [∅]’). Here, we used pseudo-verbs to test whether and how well Swiss-German-learning children inferred a causal meaning from lexical causatives compared to Turkish-learning children tested in three conditions: lexical causatives, morphological causatives, and morphological causatives with object ellipsis. Swiss-German-learning children and Turkish-learning children in all three conditions reliably inferred causal meanings, and did so to a similar extent. The findings suggest that, as young as age 3, children learning two different languages similarly make use of language-specific causality cues (syntactic and morphological alike) to infer causal meanings.

Abstract

This study investigated whether cross-linguistic differences in causal expressions influence the mapping of causal language on causal events in three- to four-year-old Swiss-German learners and Turkish learners. In Swiss-German, causality is mainly expressed syntactically with lexical causatives (e.g., ässe ‘to eat’ vs. füettere ‘to feed’). In Turkish, causality is expressed both syntactically and morphologically – with a verbal suffix (e.g., yemek ‘to eat’ vs. yeDIRmek ‘to feed’). Moreover, unlike Swiss-German, Turkish allows argument ellipsis (e.g., ‘The mother feeds [∅]’). Here, we used pseudo-verbs to test whether and how well Swiss-German-learning children inferred a causal meaning from lexical causatives compared to Turkish-learning children tested in three conditions: lexical causatives, morphological causatives, and morphological causatives with object ellipsis. Swiss-German-learning children and Turkish-learning children in all three conditions reliably inferred causal meanings, and did so to a similar extent. The findings suggest that, as young as age 3, children learning two different languages similarly make use of language-specific causality cues (syntactic and morphological alike) to infer causal meanings.

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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
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
Special Collections > NCCR Evolving Language
Special Collections > Centers of Competence > Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language Evolution
Dewey Decimal Classification:400 Language
150 Psychology
370 Education
Uncontrolled Keywords:Linguistics and Language, Experimental and Cognitive Psychology, Language and Linguistics
Language:English
Date:1 June 2022
Deposited On:11 Apr 2022 08:07
Last Modified:28 May 2024 01:36
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:1866-9808
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/langcog.2021.26
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100015_169712
  • : Project TitleThe role of causality in early verb learning: language-specific factors vs. universal strategies
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)