ERIC Number: EJ777487
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Lexical and Referential Cues to Sentence Interpretation: An Investigation of Children's Interpretations of Ambiguous Sentences
Kidd, Evan; Bavin, Edith L.
Journal of Child Language, v32 n4 p855-876 Nov 2005
This paper reports on an investigation of children's (aged 3;5-9;8) comprehension of sentences containing ambiguity of prepositional phrase (PP) attachment. Results from a picture selection study (N=90) showed that children use verb semantics and preposition type to resolve the ambiguity, with older children also showing sensitivity to the definiteness of the object NP as a cue to interpretation. Study 2 investigated three- and five-year-old children's (N=47) ability to override an instrumental interpretation of ambiguous PPs in order to process attributes of the referential scene. The results showed that while five-year-olds are capable of incorporating aspects of the referential scene into their interpretations, three-year-olds are not as successful. Overall, the results suggest that children are attuned very early to the lexico-semantic co-occurrences that have been shown to aid ambiguity resolution in adults, but that more diffuse cues to interpretation are used only later in development. [This research was partially funded by an Australian Postgraduate Award.]
Descriptors: Sentences, Cues, Investigations, Semantics, Form Classes (Languages), Figurative Language, Language Processing, Young Children
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Preschool Education
Sponsor: Max Planck Inst., Nijmegan (Netherlands).
Authoring Institution: N/A