Retrieving the meaning of words from syntactic cues: A comprehension study of 2 to 4 yrs old French-speaking children.

Abstract : In French, nouns occur in NP constituents usually preceded by determiners while verbs are embedded in sentences with a preceding subject NP (pronoun or noun), occur "bear" at the imperative form, or occur in VP preceded by auxiliaries or prepositions. Can young children use this kind of grammatical information to attribute meaning to new or semantically ambiguous words? 90 French-speaking children between 2 and 4 years (30 per age group) were confronted to pairs of images, an object and an action performed by a person and were asked to show where was "X", where X was either the noun or the verb version of a meaningful homophone or of a nonce word. Cues were provided by a determinate article or by a subject pronoun in prelexical position. For example, /li/ means bed when preceded by "le" 'the' (le lit 'the bed') and reads when preceded by "elle" 'she' (elle lit 'she reads'). Noun and verb functions, order of items, and position of the requested item on the screen, were controlled. Results show that items are succeeded beyond chance at all ages, the overall number of successes increasing with age. Individually, 50% of the 2 year-olds succeed beyond chance the overall set of items, a proportion that increases with age reaching 93% of the subjects at 4 years. These results show an early sensitivity of young children to syntactic cues and an early capacity to use grammatical information for attributing meaning to new or semantically ambiguous words.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00614050
Contributor : Edy Veneziano <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 1:23:17 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, April 11, 2019 - 4:02:49 PM

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Edy Veneziano, Christophe Parisse. Retrieving the meaning of words from syntactic cues: A comprehension study of 2 to 4 yrs old French-speaking children.. IASCL 2011, International Conference on the Study of Child Language, 2011, Montreal, Canada. ⟨halshs-00614050⟩

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