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Animacy effects on the production of object-dislocated descriptions by Catalan-speaking children

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-117
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Child Language
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2000
Event3rd GALA Conference on Language Acquisition: Knowledge Representation and Processing - EDINBURGH, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Jan 1997 → …


This paper presents an experiment that examined two related questions. First, it examined the effects of animacy on the production of different syntactic structures and word orders by Catalan-speaking children. Secondly, it explored the relationship between age and the production of different syntactic structures by these children. The results of a picture description experiment run with eighty Catalan-speaking children aged 4;11 to II;II shaw that participants tended to produce more object-dislocated descriptions when the patient was animate than when the patient was inanimate. The results also show that while the dislocation of object clauses is a construction already consolidated at 5;0, the passive structure is a construction still not fully acquired at II;o. A comparison between the results obtained in the present experiment with existing results from similar experiments with English-speaking children shows that there is a cross-language difference in the age at which children start producing passive clauses. We argue that frequency of exposure to a particular syntactic structure is an important factor that contributes to the acquisition of that syntactic structure. We also suggest that the effects of animacy on the production of object-dislocated descriptions can be explained by means of conceptual and lexical accessibility.

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