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Language Learning and Development

Margarethe McDonald, Megan Gross, Milijana Buac, Michelle Batko, Margarita Kaushanskaya
This study tested the effect of Spanish-accented speech on sentence comprehension in children with different degrees of Spanish experience. The hypothesis was that earlier acquisition of Spanish would be associated with enhanced comprehension of Spanish-accented speech. Three groups of 5-6 year old children were tested: monolingual English-speaking children, simultaneous Spanish-English bilingual children and early English-Spanish bilingual children. The children completed a semantic judgment task in English on semantically meaningful and nonsensical sentences produced by a native English speaker and a native Spanish speaker characterized by a strong Spanish accent...
2018: Language Learning and Development
Brock Ferguson, Eileen Graf, Sandra R Waxman
We assessed 24-month-old infants' lexical processing efficiency for both novel and familiar words. Prior work documented that 19-month-olds successfully identify referents of familiar words (e.g., The dog is so little ) as well as novel words whose meanings were informed only by the surrounding sentence (e.g., The vep is crying ), but that the speed with which they identify the referents of novel words lagged far behind that for familiar words. Here we take a developmental approach, extending this work to 24-month-olds...
2018: Language Learning and Development
Erica H Wojcik
Two experiments investigated two-year-olds' retention and generalization of novel words across short and long time delays. Specifically, retention of newly learned words and generalization to novel exemplars or novel contexts were tested one minute or one week after learning. Experiment 1 revealed successful retention as well as successful generalization to both new exemplars and new contexts after a one-minute delay, with no statistical differences between retention and generalization performance for either generalization type...
2017: Language Learning and Development
Kathryn D Schuler, Patricia A Reeder, Elissa L Newport, Richard N Aslin
Successful language acquisition hinges on organizing individual words into grammatical categories and learning the relationships between them, but the method by which children accomplish this task has been debated in the literature. One proposal is that learners use the shared distributional contexts in which words appear as a cue to their underlying category structure. Indeed, recent research using artificial languages has demonstrated that learners can acquire grammatical categories from this type of distributional information...
2017: Language Learning and Development
Elika Bergelson, Richard Aslin
The present study investigated infants' knowledge about familiar nouns. Infants (n = 46, 12-20-month-olds) saw two-image displays of familiar objects, or one familiar and one novel object. Infants heard either a matching word (e.g. "foot' when seeing foot and juice), a related word (e.g. "sock" when seeing foot and juice) or a nonce word (e.g. "fep" when seeing a novel object and dog). Across the whole sample, infants reliably fixated the referent on matching and nonce trials. On the critical related trials we found increasingly less looking to the incorrect (but related) image with age...
2017: Language Learning and Development
Lilia Rissman, Susan Goldin-Meadow
Across a diverse range of languages, children proceed through similar stages in their production of causal language: their initial verbs lack internal causal structure, followed by a period during which they produce causative overgeneralizations, indicating knowledge of a productive causative rule. We asked in this study whether a child not exposed to structured linguistic input could create linguistic devices for encoding causation and, if so, whether the emergence of this causal language would follow a trajectory similar to the one observed for children learning language from linguistic input...
2017: Language Learning and Development
Erin Conwell
Many approaches to early word learning posit that children assume a one-to-one mapping of form and meaning. However, children's early vocabularies contain homophones, words that violate that assumption. Children might learn such words by exploiting prosodic differences between homophone meanings that are associated with lemma frequency (Gahl, 2008). Such differences have not yet been documented in children's natural language experience and the exaggerated prosody of child-directed speech could either mask the subtle distinctions reported in adult-directed speech or enhance them...
2017: Language Learning and Development
Chia-Cheng Lee, Yuna Jhang, Li-Mei Chen, George Relyea, D Kimbrough Oller
Prior research on ambient-language effects in babbling has often suggested infants produce language-specific phonological features within the first year. These results have been questioned in research failing to find such effects and challenging the positive findings on methodological grounds. We studied English- and Chinese-learning infants at 8, 10, and 12 months and found listeners could not detect ambient-language effects in the vast majority of infant utterances, but only in items deemed to be words or to contain canonical syllables that may have made them sound like words with language-specific shapes...
2017: Language Learning and Development
Emily Szkudlarek, Elizabeth M Brannon
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
2017: Language Learning and Development
Pamela A Hadley, Matthew Rispoli, Janet K Holt, Theodora Papastratakos, Ning Hsu, Mary Kubalanza, Megan M McKenna
PURPOSE: The current study used an intervention design to test the hypothesis that parent input sentences with diverse lexical noun phrase (NP) subjects would accelerate growth in children's sentence diversity. METHOD: Child growth in third person sentence diversity was modeled from 21 to 30 months ( n = 38) in conversational language samples obtained at 21, 24, 27, and 30 months. Treatment parents ( n = 19) received instruction on strategies designed to increase lexical NP subjects (e...
2017: Language Learning and Development
Silke Brandt, Elena Lieven, Michael Tomasello
Children and adults follow cues such as case marking and word order in their assignment of semantic roles in simple transitives (e.g., the dog chased the cat). It has been suggested that the same cues are used for the interpretation of complex sentences, such as transitive relative clauses (RCs) (e.g., that's the dog that chased the cat) (Bates, Devescovi, & D'Amico, 1999). We used a pointing paradigm to test German-speaking 3-, 4-, and 6-year-old children's sensitivity to case marking and word order in their interpretation of simple transitives and transitive RCs...
April 2, 2016: Language Learning and Development
Emiddia Longobardi, Pietro Spataro, Diane L Putnick, Marc H Bornstein
The present study examined continuity/discontinuity and stability/instability of noun and verb production measures in 30 child-mother dyads observed at 16 and 20 months, and predictive relations with the acquisition of nouns and verbs at 24 months. Children exhibited significant discontinuity and robust stability in the frequency of nouns and verbs between 16 and 20 months (over and above the contribution of maternal measures). By contrast, mothers showed small, but significant, increases in the total number of nouns and the percentages of nouns located in the initial and final utterance positions, together with a decrease in the percentage of verbs located in the initial position...
2016: Language Learning and Development
Kristina Woodard, Lila R Gleitman, John C Trueswell
A child word-learning experiment is reported that examines 2- and 3-year-olds' ability to learn the meanings of novel words across multiple, referentially ambiguous, word occurrences. Children were told they were going on an animal safari in which they would learn the names of unfamiliar animals. Critical trial sequences began with hearing a novel word (e.g., "I see a dax! Point to the dax!") while seeing photos of two unfamiliar animals. After responding and performing on two filler trials with known animals, participants encountered the novel word again ("I see another dax! Point to the dax!") in one of two experimental conditions...
2016: Language Learning and Development
Lori Heisler, Lisa Goffman
A word learning paradigm was used to teach children novel words that varied in phonotactic probability and neighborhood density. The effects of frequency and density on speech production were examined when phonetic forms were non-referential (i.e., when no referent was attached) and when phonetic forms were referential (i.e., when a referent was attached through fast mapping). Two methods of analysis were included: (1) kinematic variability of speech movement patterning; and (2) measures of segmental accuracy...
2016: Language Learning and Development
Lulu Song, Rachel Pulverman, Christina Pepe, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek
Learning a language is more than learning its vocabulary and grammar. For example, compared to English, Spanish uses many more path verbs such as ascender ('to move upward') and salir ('to go out'), and expresses manner of motion optionally. English, in contrast, has many manner verbs (e.g., run, jog) and expresses path in prepositional phrases (e.g., out of the barn). The way in which a language encodes an event is known as its lexicalization pattern or bias. Using a written sentence elicitation task, we asked whether adult Spanish learners whose L1 was English adopted Spanish lexicalization biases, and what types of L2 exposure facilitated the learning of lexicalization biases...
2016: Language Learning and Development
Lucia Pozzan, Lila R Gleitman, John C Trueswell
When learning verb meanings, learners capitalize on universal linguistic correspondences between syntactic and semantic structure. For instance, upon hearing the transitive sentence "the boy is glorping the girl" two-year olds prefer a two-participant event (e.g., a boy making a girl spin) over two simultaneous one-participant events (a boy and a girl separately spinning). However, two- and three-year-olds do not consistently show the opposite preference when hearing conjoined-subject intransitive sentences ("the boy and the girl are glorping")...
January 1, 2016: Language Learning and Development
Katherine Messenger, Sylvia Yuan, Cynthia Fisher
Children recruit verb syntax to guide verb interpretation. We asked whether 22-month-olds spontaneously encode information about a particular novel verb's syntactic properties through listening to sentences, retain this information in long-term memory over a filled delay, and retrieve it to guide interpretation upon hearing the same novel verb again. Children watched dialogues in which interlocutors discussed unseen events using a novel verb in transitive (e.g., "Anna blicked the baby") or intransitive sentences ("Anna blicked")...
October 1, 2015: Language Learning and Development
Joanna C Lee, J Bruce Tomblin
The aim of the current study was to examine different aspects of procedural memory in young adults who varied with regard to their language abilities. We selected a sample of procedural memory tasks, each of which represented a unique type of procedural learning, and has been linked, at least partially, to the functionality of the corticostriatal system. The findings showed that variance in language abilities is associated with performance on different domains of procedural memory, including the motor domain (as shown in the pursuit rotor task), the cognitive domain (as shown in the weather prediction task), and the linguistic domain (as shown in the nonword repetition priming task)...
July 1, 2015: Language Learning and Development
Laura Lakusta, Susan Carey
Across languages and event types (agentive and non-agentive motion, transfer, change of state, attach/detach), goal paths are privileged over source paths in the linguistic encoding of events. Furthermore, some linguistic analyses suggest that goal paths are more central than source paths in the semantic and syntactic structure of motion verbs. However, in the non-linguistic memory of children and adults, a goal bias shows up only for events involving intentional, goal-directed, action. Three experiments explored infants' non-linguistic representations of goals and sources in motion events...
April 2015: Language Learning and Development
Marcus E Galle, Keith S Apfelbaum, Bob McMurray
Recent work has demonstrated that the addition of multiple talkers during habituation improves 14-month-olds' performance in the switch task (Rost & McMurray, 2009). While the authors suggest that this boost in performance is due to the increase in acoustic variability (Rost & McMurray, 2010), it is also possible that there is something crucial about the presence of multiple talkers that is driving this performance. To determine whether or not acoustic variability in and of itself is beneficial in early word learning tasks like the switch task, we tested 14-month-old infants in a version of the switch task using acoustically variable auditory stimuli produced by a single speaker...
2015: Language Learning and Development
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