ERIC Number: EJ851489
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-May
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
Subject-Verb Agreement in Children and Adults: Serial or Hierarchical Processing?
Negro, Isabelle; Chanquoy, Lucile; Fayol, Michel; Louis-Sidney, Maryse
Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, v34 n3 p233-258 May 2005
Two processes, serial and hierarchical, are generally opposed to account for grammatical encoding in language production. In a developmental perspective, the question addressed here is whether the subject-verb agreement during writing is computed serially, once the words are linearly ordered in the sentence, or hierarchically, as soon as the number features are determined in a hierarchical frame. Adults and children from 3rd to 5th grades were requested to listen to sentences with built-in prepositional phrases or relative clauses and to transcribe them as quickly as possible. A serial hypothesis assumes that subject-verb agreement errors should be equally frequent with both preambles because each has the same length separating the subject head noun and the main verb. Conversely, according to a hierarchical view, errors should be more frequent with a prepositional phrase because the syntactic distance between the subject and the verb is greater than with a relative clause. The results revealed a main effect of the preamble manipulated in 5th graders and adults, but not in 3rd graders. These data were in favor of a hierarchical processing in older writers and a serial one in younger children. However, in 3rd grade, we assumed that the potential serial account was a result of the resource constraint on writing more than of a real serial processing of the agreement.
Descriptors: Sentences, Verbs, Grammar, Grade 5, Grade 3, Adults, Language Processing, Writing (Composition), Form Classes (Languages), Error Analysis (Language), Age Differences, Serial Ordering
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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