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Competing Motivations in Grammar and Usage$
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Brian MacWhinney, Andrej Malchukov, and Edith Moravcsik

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198709848

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198709848.001.0001

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Competing cues in early syntactic development

Competing cues in early syntactic development

(p.163) 10 Competing cues in early syntactic development
Competing Motivations in Grammar and Usage

Grzegorz Krajewski

Elena Lieven

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, a number of studies exploring young children's development of grammar within the Competition Model framework (Bates and MacWhinney 1989) are reviewed. It focuses on studies investigating children's ability to comprehend a simple transitive sentence, i.e., their ability to identify its subject and object, and in particular on the role that word order and case marking play in this process in different languages. The results suggest that children can initially process sentences which follow a prototypical pattern of their language and as such provide a number of redundant cues, and that the process of pulling apart individual cues is slow and gradual. The ability to use cues productively with novel items is more delayed and sentences with competing cues remain particularly difficult for a long time. The implications those results have for our understanding of early grammatical development are discussed.

Keywords:   language development, syntax, argument structure, morphology, word order, English, Polish, German, Cantonese, Competition Model

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