Cue conflicts in context: Interplay between morphosyntax and discourse context in Danish preschoolers’ semantic role assignment

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

Ditte Boeg Thomsen, Mads Poulsen

When learning their first language, children develop strategies for assigning semantic roles to sentence structures, depending on morphosyntactic cues such as case and word order. Traditionally, comprehension experiments have presented transitive clauses in isolation, and crosslinguistically children have been found to misinterpret object-first constructions by following a word-order strategy (Chan, Lieven & Tomasello, 2009; Dittmar, Abbot-Smith, Lieven & Tomasello, 2008; Hakuta, 1982; McDonald, 1989; Slobin & Bever, 1982). In an act-out study, we replicated this finding with Danish preschoolers. However, object-first clauses may be context-sensitive structures, which are infelicitous in isolation. In a second act-out study we presented OVS clauses in supportive and unsupportive discourse contexts and in isolation and found that five-to-six-year-olds’ OVS comprehension was enhanced in discourse-pragmatically felicitous contexts. Our results extend previous findings of preschoolers’ sensitivity to discourse-contextual cues in sentence comprehension (Hurewitz, 2001; Song & Fisher, 2005) to the basic task of assigning agent and patient roles.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftJournal of Child Language
Vol/bind42
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)1237-1266
ISSN0305-0009
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2015

ID: 130329738