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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 looks to the distractor figure (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.
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Figure 4: Proportion of looks to the distractor figure (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.

Mentions: Before discussing the results, let us examine the pattern of children’s looks to the distractor animal. Recall that, in their off-line responses on incorrect trials, children named the color of the distractor animal, never that of the middle animal. Figure 4 shows, for each of the three conditions, the proportion of distractor looks in children with high and low scores on the memory tests, broken by their language scores (again, we plot here the partial effects; the corresponding plot showing the observed data is provided in the online supplementary material). As expected, and reflecting children’s off-line responses, on the OR + 1pro condition their looks to the distractor are very low. By contrast, on the OR + 2DP and OR + 3pro conditions, the proportion of distractor looks throughout the critical time window is very high, mostly for children with lower memory scores. That is, children’s errors were expressed by their systematic (off-line as well as on-line) interpretation of the OR as a SR, treating the DP head as the subject rather than the object of the embedded clause. This pattern of error is typically found in studies on children’s comprehension of relative clauses.


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

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

Proportion of looks to the distractor figure (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.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Figure 4: Proportion of looks to the distractor figure (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.
Mentions: Before discussing the results, let us examine the pattern of children’s looks to the distractor animal. Recall that, in their off-line responses on incorrect trials, children named the color of the distractor animal, never that of the middle animal. Figure 4 shows, for each of the three conditions, the proportion of distractor looks in children with high and low scores on the memory tests, broken by their language scores (again, we plot here the partial effects; the corresponding plot showing the observed data is provided in the online supplementary material). As expected, and reflecting children’s off-line responses, on the OR + 1pro condition their looks to the distractor are very low. By contrast, on the OR + 2DP and OR + 3pro conditions, the proportion of distractor looks throughout the critical time window is very high, mostly for children with lower memory scores. That is, children’s errors were expressed by their systematic (off-line as well as on-line) interpretation of the OR as a SR, treating the DP head as the subject rather than the object of the embedded clause. This pattern of error is typically found in studies on children’s comprehension of relative clauses.

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