ERIC Number: ED224325
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982
Reference Count: 0
The Acquisition of Metalinguistic Abilities.
Hoppe, Ronald A.; Kess, Joseph F.
The acquisition of the metalinguistic abilities involved in ambiguity detection and resolution was studied with children. It is suggested that metalinguistic abilities may serve as potential test measures for facility in learning a second language. School children (ages 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13) were tested for their ability to detect ambiguous sentences and their ability to provide multiple interpretations for common ambiguity types in the areas of lexicon and syntax. An extensive review of the literature and a pilot study on the development of metalinguistic ability of children are presented. In the pilot study, each child was asked to give two meanings of ambiguous sentences. An equal number of sentences were lexically ambiguous, ambiguous at the surface level, and ambiguous at the underlying level. Results with the 5 year olds show that they were not perceiving two meanings of the ambiguous sentences. A steady increase with age in the perception of two meanings was demonstrated. At each age level, the lexically ambiguous sentences were generally easier than the structually ambiguous ones. The 13 year olds perceived two meanings for almost all of the lexically ambiguous sentences and about half of the structurally ambiguous sentences. The current findings and those of previous research suggest that metalinguistic ability to detect ambiguity is not completely developed by the age of 13. It is suggested that a relationship may exist between the abilities to detect ambiguity and to acquire a second language. (SW)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the International Conference of the AILA Commission on Psycholinguistics, "First and Second Language Learning: Similarities and Difference" (1st, Milan, Italy), November 1-3, 1982).