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ERIC Number: EJ925755
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jul
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0277
Tracking Irregular Morphophonological Dependencies in Natural Language: Evidence from the Acquisition of Subject-Verb Agreement in French
Nazzi, Thierry; Barriere, Isabelle; Goyet, Louise; Kresh, Sarah; Legendre, Geraldine
Cognition, v120 n1 p119-135 Jul 2011
This study examines French-learning infants' sensitivity to grammatical non-adjacent dependencies involving subject-verb agreement (e.g., "le/les garcons lit/lisent" "the boy(s) read(s)") where number is audible on both the determiner of the subject DP and the agreeing verb, and the dependency is spanning across two syntactic phrases. A further particularity of this subsystem of French subject-verb agreement is that number marking on the verb is phonologically highly irregular. Despite the challenge, the HPP results for 24- and 18-month-olds demonstrate knowledge of both number dependencies: between the singular determiner le and the non-adjacent singular verbal forms and between the plural determiner les and the non-adjacent plural verbal forms. A control experiment suggests that the infants are responding to known verb forms, not phonological regularities. Given the paucity of such forms in the adult input documented through a corpus study, these results are interpreted as evidence that 18-month-olds have the ability to extract complex patterns across a range of morphophonologically inconsistent and infrequent items in natural language. (Contains 10 tables and 3 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A