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Iconicity affects children’s comprehension of complex sentences: The role of semantics, clause order, input and individual differences

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dc.contributor.author de Ruiter, L. E., Theakston, A. L., Brandt, S., & Lieven, E. V.
dc.date.accessioned 2021-04-29T15:50:28Z
dc.date.available 2021-04-29T15:50:28Z
dc.date.issued 2018
dc.identifier.citation de Ruiter, L. E., Theakston, A. L., Brandt, S., & Lieven, E. V. (2018). Iconicity affects children’s comprehension of complex sentences: The role of semantics, clause order, input and individual differences. Cognition, 171, 202-224. en_US
dc.identifier.uri https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S0010027717302780?token=A08162C0BBCE28FDE88E9E8BF5311F831AD9B0127B10A10E25E3C852E0ED1910331C8FBEB2EDA3181C43BE91C121A2FB&originRegion=us-east-1&originCreation=2021042619093
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11212/5061
dc.description.abstract Complex sentences involving adverbial clauses appear in children’s speech at about three years of age yet children have difficulty comprehending these sentences well into the school years. To date, the reasons for these difficulties are unclear, largely because previous studies have tended to focus on only sub-types of adverbial clauses, or have tested only limited theoretical models. In this paper, we provide the most comprehensive experimental study to date. We tested four-year-olds, five-year-olds and adults on four different adverbial clauses (before, after, because, if) to evaluate four different theoretical models (semantic, syntactic, frequency-based and capacity-constrained). 71 children and 10 adults (as controls) completed a forced-choice, picture-selection comprehension test, providing accuracy and response time data. Children also completed a battery of tests to assess their linguistic and general cognitive abilities. We found that children’s comprehension was strongly influenced by semantic factors – the iconicity of the event-to-language mappings – and that their response times were influenced by the type of relation expressed by the connective (temporal vs. causal). Neither input frequency (frequency-based account), nor clause order (syntax account) or working memory (capacity-constrained account) provided a good fit to the data. Our findings thus contribute to the development of more sophisticated models of sentence processing. We conclude that such models must also take into account how children’s emerging linguistic understanding interacts with developments in other cognitive domains such as their ability to construct mental models and reason flexibly about them. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher Cognition en_US
dc.subject Language acquisition en_US
dc.subject Language processing en_US
dc.subject child development en_US
dc.subject Complex syntax en_US
dc.subject talking with children en_US
dc.subject research en_US
dc.subject International Resources en_US
dc.subject United Kingdom en_US
dc.title Iconicity affects children’s comprehension of complex sentences: The role of semantics, clause order, input and individual differences en_US
dc.type Article en_US


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