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Abstract knowledge of word order by 19 months: An eye-tracking study

Millotte, Séverine
Published in Applied Psycholinguistics. 2013, vol. 34, no. 2, p. 323-336
Collection Open Access - Licence nationale Cambridge University Press
Abstract Word order is one of the earliest aspects of grammar that the child acquires, since her early utterances already respect the basic word order of the target language. However, the question of the nature of early syntactic representations is subject to debate. Approaches inspired by formal syntax assume that the head-complement order, differentiating Verb-Object and Object-Verb languages, is represented very early on in an abstract, rule-like format. In contrast, constructivist theories assume that it is initially encoded as lexicalized, verb-specific knowledge. In order to address this issue experimentally, we combined the preferential looking paradigm using pseudo-verbs (following Gertner, Fisher & Eisengart, 2006) with the weird word order paradigm (following Akhtar, 1999) adapted to comprehension. The results, based on highly reliable, coder-independent eye-tracking measures, provide the first direct evidence that as early as 19 months French-speaking infants have an abstract representation of the word order of their language.
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Research group Psycholinguistique
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FRANCK, Julie et al. Abstract knowledge of word order by 19 months: An eye-tracking study. In: Applied Psycholinguistics, 2013, vol. 34, n° 2, p. 323-336. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:41138

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Deposited on : 2014-10-24

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