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Discourse accessibility constraints in children's processing of object relative clauses.

Haendler Y, Kliegl R, Adani F - Front Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: In the former condition, children with stronger grammatical skills accurately processed the structure and their memory abilities determined how fast they were; in the latter condition, children only processed accurately the structure if they were strong both in their grammatical skills and in their memory capacity.The results are discussed in the light of accounts that predict different pronoun effects like the ones we find, which depend on the referential properties of the pronouns.We then discuss which role language and memory abilities might have in processing object relatives with various embedded nominal phrases.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Linguistics, University of Potsdam, Potsdam Germany.

ABSTRACT
Children's poor performance on object relative clauses has been explained in terms of intervention locality. This approach predicts that object relatives with a full DP head and an embedded pronominal subject are easier than object relatives in which both the head noun and the embedded subject are full DPs. This prediction is shared by other accounts formulated to explain processing mechanisms. We conducted a visual-world study designed to test the off-line comprehension and on-line processing of object relatives in German-speaking 5-year-olds. Children were tested on three types of object relatives, all having a full DP head noun and differing with respect to the type of nominal phrase that appeared in the embedded subject position: another full DP, a 1st- or a 3rd-person pronoun. Grammatical skills and memory capacity were also assessed in order to see whether and how they affect children's performance. Most accurately processed were object relatives with 1st-person pronoun, independently of children's language and memory skills. Performance on object relatives with two full DPs was overall more accurate than on object relatives with 3rd-person pronoun. In the former condition, children with stronger grammatical skills accurately processed the structure and their memory abilities determined how fast they were; in the latter condition, children only processed accurately the structure if they were strong both in their grammatical skills and in their memory capacity. The results are discussed in the light of accounts that predict different pronoun effects like the ones we find, which depend on the referential properties of the pronouns. We then discuss which role language and memory abilities might have in processing object relatives with various embedded nominal phrases.

No MeSH data available.


Example of a visual scene, a preamble and a test sentence.
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Figure 1: Example of a visual scene, a preamble and a test sentence.

Mentions: In a setup inspired by Arnon (2005, 2010) and Adani (2011) participants watched in each trial an animated video with two identical animals on the sides (target and distractor animals) and a third different animal in the middle (middle animal). Each of these three regions of interest had the same size of 436 × 400 pixels. An example of a visual scene is provided in Figure 1. Employing two verbs, ‘chase’ and ‘tickle,’ the three animals in the scene were chasing each other on half of the trials and tickling one another with a feather on the other half. Each of the animals in the scene was colored differently. The three colors were combined such that similar colors did not appear within the same video, in order to facilitate color distinction and recognition (Pitchford and Mullen, 2003). Each of the animals carried a small object (hat, glasses, flower or heart–all clip art images) that was relevant for the fillers, but not for the experimental items. The target animal (i.e., the referent of the OR head noun) could be one of four masculine nouns–bear, bunny, lion, or monkey–each of which appeared an equal number of times as target, and in a balanced manner across conditions. The middle animal was on some trials a neuter noun (horse, camel, zebra, or sheep) and on others a feminine noun (duck, cow, cat, or mouse). In the OR + 1pro condition, the middle animal was always the dog, established as referent for the 1st-person pronoun in an introduction story prior to the experiment (see Procedure). The direction of the scene was in half of the trials from left to right and in the other half from right to left. Depending on the action direction, the target animal was always either on the left or on the right side of the scene, but never in the middle. In the ORs, the target animal was always the last animal in the row; in the fillers, it was always the first animal in the row, to prevent participants from anticipating the side on which the target appeared.


Discourse accessibility constraints in children's processing of object relative clauses.

Haendler Y, Kliegl R, Adani F - Front Psychol (2015)

Example of a visual scene, a preamble and a test sentence.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4477058&req=5

Figure 1: Example of a visual scene, a preamble and a test sentence.
Mentions: In a setup inspired by Arnon (2005, 2010) and Adani (2011) participants watched in each trial an animated video with two identical animals on the sides (target and distractor animals) and a third different animal in the middle (middle animal). Each of these three regions of interest had the same size of 436 × 400 pixels. An example of a visual scene is provided in Figure 1. Employing two verbs, ‘chase’ and ‘tickle,’ the three animals in the scene were chasing each other on half of the trials and tickling one another with a feather on the other half. Each of the animals in the scene was colored differently. The three colors were combined such that similar colors did not appear within the same video, in order to facilitate color distinction and recognition (Pitchford and Mullen, 2003). Each of the animals carried a small object (hat, glasses, flower or heart–all clip art images) that was relevant for the fillers, but not for the experimental items. The target animal (i.e., the referent of the OR head noun) could be one of four masculine nouns–bear, bunny, lion, or monkey–each of which appeared an equal number of times as target, and in a balanced manner across conditions. The middle animal was on some trials a neuter noun (horse, camel, zebra, or sheep) and on others a feminine noun (duck, cow, cat, or mouse). In the OR + 1pro condition, the middle animal was always the dog, established as referent for the 1st-person pronoun in an introduction story prior to the experiment (see Procedure). The direction of the scene was in half of the trials from left to right and in the other half from right to left. Depending on the action direction, the target animal was always either on the left or on the right side of the scene, but never in the middle. In the ORs, the target animal was always the last animal in the row; in the fillers, it was always the first animal in the row, to prevent participants from anticipating the side on which the target appeared.

Bottom Line: In the former condition, children with stronger grammatical skills accurately processed the structure and their memory abilities determined how fast they were; in the latter condition, children only processed accurately the structure if they were strong both in their grammatical skills and in their memory capacity.The results are discussed in the light of accounts that predict different pronoun effects like the ones we find, which depend on the referential properties of the pronouns.We then discuss which role language and memory abilities might have in processing object relatives with various embedded nominal phrases.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Linguistics, University of Potsdam, Potsdam Germany.

ABSTRACT
Children's poor performance on object relative clauses has been explained in terms of intervention locality. This approach predicts that object relatives with a full DP head and an embedded pronominal subject are easier than object relatives in which both the head noun and the embedded subject are full DPs. This prediction is shared by other accounts formulated to explain processing mechanisms. We conducted a visual-world study designed to test the off-line comprehension and on-line processing of object relatives in German-speaking 5-year-olds. Children were tested on three types of object relatives, all having a full DP head noun and differing with respect to the type of nominal phrase that appeared in the embedded subject position: another full DP, a 1st- or a 3rd-person pronoun. Grammatical skills and memory capacity were also assessed in order to see whether and how they affect children's performance. Most accurately processed were object relatives with 1st-person pronoun, independently of children's language and memory skills. Performance on object relatives with two full DPs was overall more accurate than on object relatives with 3rd-person pronoun. In the former condition, children with stronger grammatical skills accurately processed the structure and their memory abilities determined how fast they were; in the latter condition, children only processed accurately the structure if they were strong both in their grammatical skills and in their memory capacity. The results are discussed in the light of accounts that predict different pronoun effects like the ones we find, which depend on the referential properties of the pronouns. We then discuss which role language and memory abilities might have in processing object relatives with various embedded nominal phrases.

No MeSH data available.