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PUTTING WORDS TOGETHER

:
MORPHOLOGY AND SYNTAX
IN THE PRESCHOOL YEARS

Prepared by: Catherine D. De Loyola

1. Later developments in
preschoolers

Passive
Coordination
Relative Clauses

object . rare in children’s spontaneous speech due to reversed order of agent .Passive rarely used in English highlights the object of a sentence or the recipient of an action The window was broken by a dog.

boy) Truncated passives – inanimate subjects (lamp.Horgan. windows). 1978 used set of pictures to elicit passives out from 1-13 years old children Younger children – produced full passives than truncated passives (no agent is specified) example ‘The window was broken.’ Topic differences: Full passives –animate subjects (girl. .

whereas true passives are generated by a syntactic transformation. = adjective not a passive participle of break *Adjectival passives – are generated in the lexicon.Horgan. *The window was broken. . which explain the differing pattern of full passives in early productions. 1978 Truncated passives are not true passives at all.

(passive) Bever. (active) The dog was patted by the girl. 1970 . (passive) Semantically irreversible – only one of the nouns could plausibly act as an agent Ex: The girl patted the dog. (active) or The boy was kissed by the girl.Used: Semantically reversible – both nouns could plausibly act as an agent or subject Ex: The boy kissed the girl.

Findings: Children understand irreversible passives earlier than reversible ones Children don’t master passive sentences w/ actional verbs (kiss or pat) until age 4-5 & later for sentences w/psychological verbs (see or like) At chance level in comprehending = ‘Bart was seen by Marge’ up until age 7 and they only reached 90% correct at age 9 Bever. 1970 .

1970 . Bever.Suggestions: 3-4yrs – developed abstract rule that order of words in English signals the main sentence relations Children know predominantly (nounverb-noun sequences = active voice mean agent-action-object) Passive sentence = ignore the was/by inferring passive noun-verb-noun sequence to be active.

.COORDINATIONS 2 ½ years – children begin combining sentences to express complex or compound propositions Simplest and most frequent way children combine sentences is to conjoin two propositions with and. Development depends not only on linguistic complexity but also on semantic and contextual factors.

Note: Sentential generally doesn’t develop before phrasal coordination. Ex: I’m pushing the wagon and I’m pulling the train Ex: I’m pushing the wagon and the train. Tager-Flusberg & Hakuta 1977) .*Two main forms of coordination according to linguists: Sentential Coordination – two or more sentences are conjoined. Phrasal C. (de Villiers. – phrases w/in sentence are conjoined.

Ex: Mary’s going home and takes her sweater off.Acquisition of coordination was influenced by semantic factors (Bloom et. . Al. Temporal relations – two clauses were related by temporal sequence or simultaneity.1980) Additive – no dependency relation between the conjoined clauses Ex: Maybe you can carry this and I can carry that.

Al.Acquisition of coordination was influenced by semantic factors (Bloom et. Adversative Relation – Expressing opposition Ex: Because I was tired and now I’m not tired. . Object Specification – to encode other meanings Ex: It looks like a fishing thing and you fish with it.1980) Causal relations Ex: She put a bandage on her shoe and marked it feel better.

) Due of its complexity and the lack of occasion to use relative clauses in naturalistic setting children produce them rarely .g. used exclusively to present information about an object or person (e.RELATIVE CLAUSES Bloom et al (1980) Relativization developed late than coordination.: It’s the one you went to last night.

Conducted elicited-production Studies .Types of relative clauses in variety of location w/in a sentence: Hamburger and Crain (1982) . .Found out that 4yr old produced relative clauses modifying object of the sentence *Right Branching Relative Clauses – added to NP to the right of a verb – the direct object of the verb Ex: Pick-up the walrus that is tickling the zebra.

The boy gave the dog to the bear who is holding the wagon. Ex. Findings: Children find it easier to add a clause at the end of a sentence than in the middle. .Tager-Flusberg (1982) *Center Embedded Relative Clauses – modify the main clause subject – appears between the subject-predicate Ex: The bear who is seating in a chair jumped up and down.

Subject.Classification on the basis of containing a gap inside of RC: *Object Gap Relative Clauses – regardless of whether they appear in rightbranching or a center-embedded position.Gap Relative Clauses – those that gap in the position of the subject Example: ‘the walrus that is tickling the zebra’ . Noun phrase: ‘the horse that the boy rode’ – missing a direct object called object gap relative clause.

Note: Studies show the same result w/c mirrored the grammatical patterns observed in languages of the world: No language seems to have object-gap relative clauses unless it has also subjectgap. . yet many languages on have subject-gap relative clauses.

& C Interpreting ‘Empty’ Subjects in Infinitive Clauses .2. B. BEYOND THE PRESCHOOL YEARS Anaphora Principles A.

Anaphora how different pronouns forms link up with their referents in a sentence. John said that Robert hurt him. . John said that Robert hurt himself.

Principle B: An anaphoric pronoun cannot be bound to a referent within the same clause. 1. When he came home John made dinner. Principle C: Backward co-reference is allowed only if the pronoun is in a subordinate clause to the main referent. He made dinner when John came home. .PRINCIPLES Principle A: A reflexive is always bound to a referent that is within the same clause. 2.

children knew Principle A but makes error of Principle B (delay of principle B effect after 6-7y/o) Conclusion: differences in methods used suggest that experimental factors explain children’s failure in Principle B when the problematic experimental conditions are avoided. This suggests that knowledge of principle B may be present from an early age.Chien & Wexler. Principle C is mastered quite early. . 1990 Age 6.

John = subject of the clause ‘to please’ John = object of the clause. subject is unspecified .Interpreting ‘Empty’ Subjects in Infinitive Clauses Similar in surface structure John is eager to please. John is easy to please.

don’t know which adjective requires interpretation. The wolf is glad to bite. The wolf is easy to bite. don’t reach adult levels of performance until age 10-11 Reasons for this is not known – suggests to help children thru asking them periodically to act things out without giving feedback .Cromer. 1972 Tested children using puppets and asked them to act out sentences. By age 6.

Utter lexical items in correct left-right order . Map an idea onto a sentence structure that expresses the idea 2. KNOWLEDGE VERSUS PROCESSING Grammar 1. Insert lexical items into appropriate parts of that structure 3.3.

.Pattern in syntax (young children): 4-5 years – children produced passive sentences with actional verbs = reflects Immature processing systems (not knowing the passive structure) or Immature grammatical system (one that has difficulty ‘finding’ or accessing the passive structure because it is so infrequent in English) 3 years – capable of producing passive sentences depending on the lowness/highness of frequency in the language.

Pattern in syntax (young children): Technologies were used to measure children’s language processing (eye movements and patterns of electrical activity in the brain) – Electroencephalography (EEG) .

Ex: I take my coffee with cream and DOG.Language processing responses to semantically and syntactically unexpected words: (Studies done in Adults) N400 – processes involved in semantic processing and maybe related to a listener’s ability to predict semantic information about upcoming words. – Semantically incongruent (negative voltage deflection that peaks approximately 400 milliseconds after the onset of the word and which the largest over central regions of the scalp) .

Language processing responses to semantically and syntactically unexpected words: (Studies done in Adults) P600 – processes involved in syntactic processing. (positive voltage deflection over posterior scalp sites that peaks approximately 600 milliseconds after the first syntactically unexpected word) – Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) . The dog ate Max’s of picture his grandmother. Ex: The broker persuaded to sell the stock.