ERIC Number: EJ917825
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
The Input Ambiguity Hypothesis and Case Blindness: An Account of Cross-Linguistic and Intra-Linguistic Differences in Case Errors
Pelham, Sabra D.
Journal of Child Language, v38 n2 p235-272 Mar 2011
English-acquiring children frequently make pronoun case errors, while German-acquiring children rarely do. Nonetheless, German-acquiring children frequently make article case errors. It is proposed that when child-directed speech contains a high percentage of case-ambiguous forms, case errors are common in child language; when percentages are low, case errors are rare. Input to English and German children was analyzed for percentage of case-ambiguous personal pronouns on adult tiers of corpora from 24 English-acquiring and 24 German-acquiring children. Also analyzed for German was the percentage of case-ambiguous articles. Case-ambiguous pronouns averaged 63.3% in English, compared with 7.6% in German. The percentage of case-ambiguous articles in German was 77.0%. These percentages align with the children's errors reported in the literature. It appears children may be sensitive to levels of ambiguity such that low ambiguity may aid error-free acquisition, while high ambiguity may blind children to case distinctions, resulting in errors.
Descriptors: Form Classes (Languages), Linguistic Input, Figurative Language, Child Language, German, Linguistic Theory, English, Language Acquisition, Grammar, Computational Linguistics, Error Analysis (Language), Contrastive Linguistics
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
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