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Discourse effects on older children’s interpretations of complement control and temporal adjunct control

Janke, Vikki (2018) Discourse effects on older children’s interpretations of complement control and temporal adjunct control. Language Acquisition, 25 (4). pp. 366-391. ISSN 1048-9223. E-ISSN 1532-7817. (doi:10.1080/10489223.2017.1359271) (KAR id:62296)

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The reference of understood subjects (ecs) in complement control (John persuaded Peteri eci to read the book) and temporal adjunct control (Johni tapped Peter while eci reading the book) has long been described as restricted to the object and subject of the main clause respectively. These restrictions have shaped the grammatical targets proposed for children, most of whom are reported as having acquired both sub-types by seven. Using three picture-selection tasks, 76 children’s (34 girls; aged 6;9-11;8) interpretations of the ecs were tested. Task 1 established their base-line preferences. Task 2 weakly cued the ecs towards an alternative referent and Task 3 strongly towards an alternative referent. Complement control responses were consistent across all tasks but in adjunct control they shifted significantly towards the object in Task 3 – a pattern mirrored by 15 adults. Responses in adjunct control also exhibited a degree of fluctuation in the baseline condition that complement control did not. A follow-up study on adjunct control showed that neither children nor adults permitted an external-referent reading, even when strongly cued in that direction. Two alternative proposals are discussed: one in which the results are viewed solely as the product of a parser’s sensitivity to activation and another that proposes two possible structures for adjunct control; this permits the evident interpretation shift yet gives precedence to the highly preferred subject-oriented reading.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/10489223.2017.1359271
Uncontrolled keywords: grammatical development; syntax; null arguments; anaphora/binding; discourse.
Subjects: P Language and Literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Vikki Janke
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2017 14:03 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 06:26 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Janke, Vikki:
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