ERIC Number: EJ938667
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
Preschoolers' Use of Morphosyntactic Cues to Identify Generic Sentences: Indefinite Singular Noun Phrases, Tense, and Aspect
Cimpian, Andrei; Meltzer, Trent J.; Markman, Ellen M.
Child Development, v82 n5 p1561-1578 Sep-Oct 2011
Generic sentences (e.g., "Birds lay eggs") convey generalizations about entire categories and may thus be an important source of knowledge for children. However, these sentences cannot be identified by a simple rule, requiring instead the integration of multiple cues. The present studies focused on 3- to 5-year-olds' (N = 91) use of "morphosyntactic" cues--in particular, on whether children can (a) interpret indefinite singular noun phrases (e.g., "a strawberry") as generic and (b) use a verb's tense and aspect (e.g., "A bat 'sleeps/slept/is sleeping' upside down") to determine whether its subject noun phrase is generic. Children demonstrated sensitivity to both cues. Thus, solving the in-principle problem of identifying generics may not be beyond the reach of young children's comprehension skills.
Descriptors: Sentences, Cues, Nouns, Morphology (Languages), Preschool Children, Language Usage, Morphemes, Phrase Structure, Verbs, Generalization, Identification, Language Processing, Child Language, Language Acquisition
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Preschool Education
Authoring Institution: N/A