ERIC Number: EJ791461
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-May
Reference Count: 0
Grammaticality Judgments in Children: The Role of Age, Working Memory and Phonological Ability
McDonald, Janet L.
Journal of Child Language, v35 n2 p247-268 May 2008
This paper examines the role of age, working memory span and phonological ability in the mastery of ten different grammatical constructions. Six- through eleven-year-old children (n = 68) and adults (n = 19) performed a grammaticality judgment task as well as tests of working memory capacity and receptive phonological ability. Children showed early mastery of some grammatical structures (e.g. word order, article omissions) while even the oldest children differed from adults on others (e.g. past tense, third person singular agreement). Working memory capacity and phonological ability accounted for variance in grammaticality judgments above and beyond age effects. In particular, working memory capacity correlated with structures involving verb morphology and word order; phonological ability was important for structures with low phonetic substance. Children's relative difficulty with the different constructions showed parallels to adult performance under memory load stress, indicating working memory capacity may be a limiting factor in their performance. Implications for performance by memory and phonologically impaired populations are discussed.
Descriptors: Form Classes (Languages), Grammar, Memory, Word Order, Age, Phonology, Child Language, Language Acquisition, Task Analysis, Verbs, Morphology (Languages), Correlation, Phonetics, Performance
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
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