Effect of Subject Types on the Production of Auxiliary Is in Young English-Speaking Children PurposeIn this study, the authors tested the unique checking constraint (UCC) hypothesis and the usage-based approach concerning why young children variably use tense and agreement morphemes in obligatory contexts by examining the effect of subject types on the production of auxiliary is.MethodTwenty typically developing 3-year-olds were included in this study. ... Article
Article  |   December 01, 2010
Effect of Subject Types on the Production of Auxiliary Is in Young English-Speaking Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ling-Yu Guo
    University of Iowa, Iowa City
  • Amanda J. Owen
    University of Iowa, Iowa City
  • J. Bruce Tomblin
    University of Iowa, Iowa City
  • Contact author: Ling-Yu Guo, who is now with the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences, University at Buffalo—The State University of New York, 118 Cary Hall, Buffalo, NY 14214. E-mail: lingyugu@buffalo.edu.
Article Information
Development / Swallowing, Dysphagia & Feeding Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Article   |   December 01, 2010
Effect of Subject Types on the Production of Auxiliary Is in Young English-Speaking Children
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2010, Vol. 53, 1720-1741. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0058)
History: Received April 2, 2009 , Revised October 15, 2009 , Accepted April 27, 2010
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2010, Vol. 53, 1720-1741. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0058)
History: Received April 2, 2009; Revised October 15, 2009; Accepted April 27, 2010
Web of Science® Times Cited: 3

PurposeIn this study, the authors tested the unique checking constraint (UCC) hypothesis and the usage-based approach concerning why young children variably use tense and agreement morphemes in obligatory contexts by examining the effect of subject types on the production of auxiliary is.

MethodTwenty typically developing 3-year-olds were included in this study. The children’s production of auxiliary is was elicited in sentences with pronominal subjects, high-frequency lexical noun phrase (NP) subjects (e.g., the dog), and low-frequency lexical NP subjects (e.g., the deer).

ResultsAs a group, children did not use auxiliary is more accurately with pronominal subjects than with lexical NP subjects. Furthermore, individual data revealed that although some children used auxiliary is more accurately with pronominal subjects than with lexical NP subjects, the majority of children did not show this trend.

ConclusionThe symmetry observed between lexical and pronominal subjects supports the predictions of the UCC hypothesis, although additional mechanisms may be needed to account for the asymmetry between subject types in some individual children. Discrepant results between the present study and previous studies were attributed to differences in task formats and children’s developmental levels.

Acknowledgments
This study was supported by a Student Research Grant in Early Childhood Language from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation, a Language Learning Dissertation Grant from Language Learning:A Journal of Research in Language Studies (Blackwell Publishing), and a dissertation scholarship from the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Iowa. We thank the children and families for their participation in and commitment to this study. We are also grateful to numerous colleagues for their work in data collection, transcription, and/or analysis: April Amonson, Allison Bean, Jessica Colwell, Emily Diehm, Laural Everist-Lambert, Danielle Kazeos, Kenneth Marciniak, Emily Meier, Allison Otto, Sarah Raske, Sarah Stuck, Carrie van Zanten, and Beth Walker. Finally, we extend special thanks to Timothy Ansley for suggestions in statistical analysis; Patricia Deevy and James Myers in frequency analysis; Rick Arenas, Amanda Berns, Wendy Fick, and Marlea O’Brien for subject recruitment; and Matthew Rispoli and the Language Development Group at the University of Iowa for valuable comments on this article.
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