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Developmental changes in misinterpretation of garden-path wh-questions in French

Omaki, Akira
Published in The quarterly journal of experimental psychology. 2016, vol. 69, no. 5, p. 829-854
Abstract This study explores (mis) interpretation of bi clausal wh-questions by French-speaking adults and children, aiming to investigate cross-linguistic differences in sentence revision mechanisms. Following previous work in Japanese the ambiguity of wh-questions was manipulated: In ambiguous questions, the fronted wh-phrase could be associated with the first, main-clause verb or the second, embedded-clause verb, while in garden-path questions, an inserted filled-gap prepositional phrase (PP) blocked main-clause attachment. Importantly, French differs from Japanese in that the filled gap arises after the first verb —that is, after the wh- phrase has been interpreted within the main clause. Two story-based comprehension experiments were conducted to probe the effect of word order on revision performance. Adults and children frequently provided main -clause interpretations of ambiguous questions. In filled-gap questions, children displayed relatively acute sensitivity to the filled-gap in wh-argument questions (Experiment2), but not in wh-adjunct questions(Experiment1); adults showed surprisingly low sensitivity to it, frequently misinterpreting adjunct and argument questions. Acceptability rating, (Experiment3) showed that adults systematically prefer in situ questions over wh-fronting questions. We conclude that timing of the error signal influences revision, and that whereas French-speaking children prioritize syntactic cues, adults prioritize distributional information about the optionality of wh-fronting in French.
Keywords Wh-questionsGarden-pathMisinterpretationFilled-gap dependencySentence revision
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Research groups Développement du langage et cognition
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LASSOTTA, Romy, OMAKI, Akira, FRANCK, Julie. Developmental changes in misinterpretation of garden-path wh-questions in French. In: The quarterly journal of experimental psychology, 2016, vol. 69, n° 5, p. 829-854. doi: 10.1080/17470218.2015.1054845 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:80960

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Deposited on : 2016-02-25

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