ERIC Number: EJ1018795
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Jan
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
Interpretation of Contrastive Pitch Accent in Six- to Eleven-Year-Old English-Speaking Children (and Adults)
Ito, Kiwako; Bibyk, Sarah A.; Wagner, Laura; Speer, Shari R.
Journal of Child Language, v41 n1 p84-110 Jan 2014
Both off-line and on-line comprehension studies suggest not only toddlers and preschoolers, but also older school-age children have trouble interpreting contrast-marking pitch prominence. To test whether children achieve adult-like proficiency in processing contrast-marking prosody during school years, an eye-tracking experiment examined the effect of accent on referential resolution in six- to eleven-year-old children and adults. In all age groups, a prominent accent facilitated the detection of a target in contrastive discourse sequences (pink cat ? green cat), whereas it led to a garden path in non-contrastive sequences (pink rabbit ? green monkey: the initial fixations were on rabbits). While the data indicate that children as young as age six immediately interpret contrastive accent, even the oldest child group showed delayed fixations compared to adults. We argue that the children's slower recovery from the garden path reflects the gradual development in cognitive flexibility that matures independently of general oculomotor control.
Descriptors: Suprasegmentals, Comprehension, Eye Movements, Children, Adults, Age Differences, Language Processing
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
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