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Young German children's early syntactic competence: a preferential looking study

Dittmar, Miriam, Abbot-Smith, Kirsten, Lieven, Elena, Tomasello, Michael (2008) Young German children's early syntactic competence: a preferential looking study. Developmental Science, 11 (4). pp. 575-582. ISSN 1363-755X. (doi:10.1111/j.1467-7687.2008.00703.x) (KAR id:25337)


Using a preferential looking methodology with novel verbs, Gertner, Fisher and Eisengart (2006) found that 21-month-old English children seemed to understand the syntactic marking of transitive word order in an abstract, verb-general way. In the current study we tested whether young German children of this same age have this same understanding. Following Gertner et al. (2006), one group of German children was tested only after they had received a training/practice phase containing transitive sentences with familiar verbs and the exact same nouns as those used at test. A second group was tested after a training/practice phase consisting only of familiar verbs, without the nouns used at test. Only the group of children with the training on full transitive sentences was successful in the test. These findings suggest that for children this young to succeed in this test of syntactic understanding, they must first have some kind of relevant linguistic experience immediately prior to testing - which raises the question of the nature of children's linguistic representations at this early point in development.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2008.00703.x
Additional information: ISI Document Delivery No.: 313DK Times Cited: 3 Cited Reference Count: 36 Dittmar, Miriam Abbot-Smith, Kirsten Lieven, Elena Tomasello, Michael Blackwell publishing Oxford
Uncontrolled keywords: word-order argument structure knowledge comprehension acquisition abstractness frequency account produce learn
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PD Germanic philology and languages
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Kirsten Abbot-Smith
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2010 16:34 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:03 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Abbot-Smith, Kirsten.

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