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Converging and competing cues in the acquisition of syntactic structures: The conjoined agent intransitive

Noble, C., Lieven, E., Iqbal, F. & Theakston, A

Journal of Child Language. 2015;.

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In two studies we use a pointing task to explore developmentally the nature of the knowledge that underlies three and four-year-old childrenâ€Â™s ability to assign meaning to the intransitive structure. The results suggest that early in development children are sensitive to a first-noun-as-causal-agent cue and animacy cues when interpreting conjoined agent intransitives. The same children however, do not appear to rely exclusively on the number of nouns as a cue to structure meaning. The pattern of results indicates that children are processing a number of cues when inferring the meaning of the conjoined agent intransitive. These cues appear to be in competition with each other and the cue that receives the most activation is used to infer the meaning of the construction. Critically, these studies suggest that childrenâ€Â™s knowledge of syntactic structures forms a network of organisation, such that knowledge of one structure can impact on interpretation of other structures.

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  • E.S.R.C. -
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Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY)
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Immediate release
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20th May, 2015
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Created by:
Theakston, Anna
20th May, 2015, 16:37:20
Last modified by:
Theakston, Anna
Last modified:
29th July, 2015, 12:50:40

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