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"... Two comprehension experiments were conducted to investigate whether German children are able to use the grammatical cues of word order and word endings (case markers) to identify agents and patients in a causative sentence and whether they weigh these two cues differently across development. Two-yea ..."
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Two comprehension experiments were conducted to investigate whether German children are able to use the grammatical cues of word order and word endings (case markers) to identify agents and patients in a causative sentence and whether they weigh these two cues differently across development. Two-year-olds correctly understood only sentences with both cues supporting each other—the prototypical form. Five-year-olds were able to use word order by itself but not case markers. Only 7-year-olds behaved like adults by relying on case markers over word order when the two cues conflicted. These findings suggest that prototypical instances of linguistic constructions with redundant grammatical marking play a special role in early acquisition, and only later do children isolate and weigh individual grammatical cues appropriately. One of the important tasks of early childhood is mastering a conventional language. Languages differ not only in their words but also in the grammatical constructions they employ for assembling words into meaningful utterances. Grammatical constructions are composed of multiple words, or word categories, structured into patterns in particular ways by such things as word order and grammatical markers (e.g., a different ending on a word when it is the subject rather than the direct object in a sentence—so-called case marking). In English, the sentence ‘‘The dax mibbed the gazzer a toma’ ’ (the ditransitive construction) implies a transfer of some kind, even though all the contentful words are meaningless (Goldberg, 1995). One construction of particular importance in early development is the basic transitive construction, prototypically used to indicate an agent causally acting on an object, as in simply ‘‘The dax mibbed the gazzer.’ ’ The importance of this construction stems from the fact that it is one of the ontogenetically
"... An incremental word space model ..."
"... Building on the use of local contexts, or ..."