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Function Words Constrain On-Line Recognition of Verbs and Nouns in French 18-Month-Olds

Cauvet, Elodie and Limissuri, Rita and Millotte, Severine and Skoruppa, Katrin and Cabrol, Dominique and Christophe, Anne (2014) 'Function Words Constrain On-Line Recognition of Verbs and Nouns in French 18-Month-Olds.' Language Learning and Development, 10 (1). pp. 1-18. ISSN 1547-5441

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Abstract

In this experiment using the conditioned head-turn procedure, 18-month-old French-learning toddlers were trained to respond to either a target noun (“la balle”/the ball) or a target verb (“je mange”/I eat). They were then tested on target word recognition in two syntactic contexts: the target word was preceded either by a correct function word (“une balle”/a ball or “on mange”/they eat), or by an incorrect function word, signaling a word from the other category (∗“on balle”/they ball or ∗“une mange”/a eat). We showed that 18-month-old s exploit the syntactic context on-line to recognize the target word: verbs were recognized when preceded by a personal pronoun but not when preceded by a determiner and vice-versa for nouns. These results suggest that 18-month-olds already know noun and verb contexts. As a result, they might be able to exploit them to categorize unknown words and constrain their possible meaning (nouns typically refer to objects whereas verbs typically refer to actions).

Item Type: Article
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Clare Chatfield
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2014 15:19
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2014 11:11
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/11532

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