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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.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Proportion of target looks (transformed to empirical logit and adjusted after the removal of individual differences) within the time window relevant for analysis, shown separately for each condition, divided by children’s score on the memory tests (blue line = High Score; orange line = Low Score) and broken by their score on the language tests (top row = High Score; bottom row = Low Score). On the x-axis Time ranges from the offset of the relative pronoun until the end of the 2-s long silence that followed the sentence. Two vertical dashed lines mark the critical chunks in the analysis window: (1) embedded subject DP (ich ‘I’; das Pferd ‘the horse’; es ‘it’); (2) embedded verb (jage/t ‘chase/s’); (3) post-sentential silence. The analysis of the eye-gaze data was performed on the entire time window shown in the plot (chunks 1–3).
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Figure 3: Proportion of target looks (transformed to empirical logit and adjusted after the removal of individual differences) within the time window relevant for analysis, shown separately for each condition, divided by children’s score on the memory tests (blue line = High Score; orange line = Low Score) and broken by their score on the language tests (top row = High Score; bottom row = Low Score). On the x-axis Time ranges from the offset of the relative pronoun until the end of the 2-s long silence that followed the sentence. Two vertical dashed lines mark the critical chunks in the analysis window: (1) embedded subject DP (ich ‘I’; das Pferd ‘the horse’; es ‘it’); (2) embedded verb (jage/t ‘chase/s’); (3) post-sentential silence. The analysis of the eye-gaze data was performed on the entire time window shown in the plot (chunks 1–3).

Mentions: Figure 3 shows, for each of the three conditions, the proportion of target looks of children with high and low scores on the memory tests, broken by their scores on the language tests in order to see the relation between the two cognitive measures. The plot shows the data within the relevant time window, defined a priori for the analysis, rather than for the entire trial duration. This window starts at the offset of the relative pronoun den (plus 200 ms, the average time span necessary for programming and executing an eye movement; Trueswell, 2008). Note that the part that precedes the relative pronoun (Welche Farbe hat der Hase,… ‘What color has the bunny…’) is ambiguous about whether the sentence is a SR or an OR. However, based on the unambiguously accusative case-marked relative pronoun, it is already possible (and, indeed, very likely for adult speakers at least) to correctly predict that the sentence will turn out to be an OR. For these reasons, the beginning of the critical time window has been set at the beginning of the critical information in the sentence, that is, after the relative pronoun has been processed. This window ends after the 2-s long silence that followed the test question.


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

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

Proportion of target looks (transformed to empirical logit and adjusted after the removal of individual differences) within the time window relevant for analysis, shown separately for each condition, divided by children’s score on the memory tests (blue line = High Score; orange line = Low Score) and broken by their score on the language tests (top row = High Score; bottom row = Low Score). On the x-axis Time ranges from the offset of the relative pronoun until the end of the 2-s long silence that followed the sentence. Two vertical dashed lines mark the critical chunks in the analysis window: (1) embedded subject DP (ich ‘I’; das Pferd ‘the horse’; es ‘it’); (2) embedded verb (jage/t ‘chase/s’); (3) post-sentential silence. The analysis of the eye-gaze data was performed on the entire time window shown in the plot (chunks 1–3).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Figure 3: Proportion of target looks (transformed to empirical logit and adjusted after the removal of individual differences) within the time window relevant for analysis, shown separately for each condition, divided by children’s score on the memory tests (blue line = High Score; orange line = Low Score) and broken by their score on the language tests (top row = High Score; bottom row = Low Score). On the x-axis Time ranges from the offset of the relative pronoun until the end of the 2-s long silence that followed the sentence. Two vertical dashed lines mark the critical chunks in the analysis window: (1) embedded subject DP (ich ‘I’; das Pferd ‘the horse’; es ‘it’); (2) embedded verb (jage/t ‘chase/s’); (3) post-sentential silence. The analysis of the eye-gaze data was performed on the entire time window shown in the plot (chunks 1–3).
Mentions: Figure 3 shows, for each of the three conditions, the proportion of target looks of children with high and low scores on the memory tests, broken by their scores on the language tests in order to see the relation between the two cognitive measures. The plot shows the data within the relevant time window, defined a priori for the analysis, rather than for the entire trial duration. This window starts at the offset of the relative pronoun den (plus 200 ms, the average time span necessary for programming and executing an eye movement; Trueswell, 2008). Note that the part that precedes the relative pronoun (Welche Farbe hat der Hase,… ‘What color has the bunny…’) is ambiguous about whether the sentence is a SR or an OR. However, based on the unambiguously accusative case-marked relative pronoun, it is already possible (and, indeed, very likely for adult speakers at least) to correctly predict that the sentence will turn out to be an OR. For these reasons, the beginning of the critical time window has been set at the beginning of the critical information in the sentence, that is, after the relative pronoun has been processed. This window ends after the 2-s long silence that followed the test question.

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.


Related in: MedlinePlus