Young Children's Knowledge of the "Determiner" and "Adjective" Categories Children's understanding of the grammatical categories of "determiner" and "adjective" was examined using 2 different methodologies. In Experiment 1, children heard novel nouns combined with either a or the. Few 2-year-olds, but nearly all 3- and 4-year-olds, subsequently produced the novel nouns with a different determiner from the modeled combination. ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2005
Young Children's Knowledge of the "Determiner" and "Adjective" Categories
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Nenagh Kemp
    University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Elena Lieven
    Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany, and University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Michael Tomasello
    Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
  • Contact author: Nenagh Kemp, PhD, Infant Studies Centre, Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada. E-mail: nkemp@psych.ubc.ca
Article Information
Development / Hearing Disorders / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / Language Disorders / Social Communication & Pragmatics Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2005
Young Children's Knowledge of the "Determiner" and "Adjective" Categories
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2005, Vol. 48, 592-609. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/041)
History: Received September 25, 2003 , Revised March 9, 2004 , Accepted October 3, 2004
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2005, Vol. 48, 592-609. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/041)
History: Received September 25, 2003; Revised March 9, 2004; Accepted October 3, 2004
Web of Science® Times Cited: 12

Children's understanding of the grammatical categories of "determiner" and "adjective" was examined using 2 different methodologies. In Experiment 1, children heard novel nouns combined with either a or the. Few 2-year-olds, but nearly all 3- and 4-year-olds, subsequently produced the novel nouns with a different determiner from the modeled combination. Experiment 2 used a priming methodology. Children age 2, 3, 4, and 6 years repeated descriptions of pictures, before describing target pictures themselves. When the primes consisted of a varied determiner + noun, all age groups produced more determiner + noun descriptions. When the primes consisted of a determiner + adjective + noun, 2-year-olds showed no priming. Three- to 6-year-olds showed item-specific priming, but only 6-year-olds (and to a limited extent 4-year-olds) showed both item-specific and structural priming. These results suggest that children build an understanding of determiners and adjectives gradually, perhaps from individual lexical items, over a number of years, and that pragmatic correctness may be attained particularly late.

Acknowledgments
This research was conducted while the first author was employed as a research associate at the Max Planck Child Study Centre at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. Thanks to Anna Theakston for helpful discussions, Geoff Hall for statistical advice, and to all the parents and children who participated in the two studies.
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