Children Seem to Know Raising: Intervention Effects in Child Language
Jinsun Choe, Kamil Ud Deen, and William O'Grady
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This paper investigates intervention effects in English-speaking children's comprehension of raising. It argues for the role of Performance-based Intervention Effects (PIE), attributing children's difficulty with raising to a performance limitation (rather than to a grammatical deficit). Two experiments were conducted, using the Truth-Value Judgment technique (Crain & Thornton, 1998). Experiment 1 (age 3;6 to 6;8, mean=4;6, n=14) tested raising sentences in which a lexical NP is raised across a pronominal experiencer (e.g., John seems to her to be happy), while Experiment 2 (age 3;0 to 5;11, mean=4;3, n=14) tested raising sentences in which a pronoun is raised across a lexical NP experiencer (e.g., He seems to Mary to be happy). The results reveal an asymmetric effect of NP type on children's comprehension: an improvement is observed when a lexical NP is raised across a pronominal experiencer (Exp. 1), but not when a pronoun is raised across a lexical NP experiencer (Exp. 2). Such results are consistent with Dependency Locality Theory (Gibson, 2000), which focuses on the referential accessibility of the intervener in the course of processing, as it predicts improved comprehension only when the intervening experiencer is a pronoun. Furthermore, these results show that whatever difficulty children exhibit with raising sentences is not due to a grammatical deficit or a non-adult-like grammar (e.g., Wexler, 2004; Hyams & Snyder, 2008; Orfitelli, 2012, and others), but rather to performance based limitations, as evidenced by the pronoun advantage in Experiment 1.
Proceedings of the 31st West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Robert E. Santana-LaBarge
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