The current study aims to revisit Japanese-speaking children's acquisition of Head-Internal Relative Clauses (HIRCs) to reconfirm its early acquisition and strengthen the proposed generalization regarding the availability of HIRCs. The author explores experimentally not only their knowledge of HIRCs and Head-External Relative Clauses (HERCs) but also their use of prosodic cues in ambiguous sentences. Experimental results show that the participants have adult-like knowledge of both HIRCs and HERCs, which lends further support to the early mastery of these constructions and the parametric proposal regarding the HIRC. The author also discusses the possibility that morphological cues such as particles are more reliable than prosodic cues for children to determine a syntactic structure. Furthermore, she argues that children have the same preference with respect to the interpretation of this type of ambiguous sentence as adults, which supports the view that children's processing mechanism is essentially the same as adults'.
Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA 2008)
edited by Jean Crawford, Koichi Otaki, and Masahiko Takahashi
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