Young children's sensitivity to new and given information when answering predicate-focus questions

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In two studies we investigated 2-year-old children's answers to predicate-focus questions depending on the preceding context. Children were presented with a successive series of short video clips showing transitive actions (e.g., frog washing duck) in which either the action (action-new) or the patient (patient-new) was the changing, and therefore new, element. During the last scene the experimenter asked the question (e.g., What's the frog doing now?). We found that children expressed the action and the patient in the patient-new condition but expressed only the action in the action-new condition. These results show that children are sensitive to both the predicate-focus question and newness in context. A further finding was that children expressed new patients in their answers more often when there was a verbal context prior to the questions than when there was not. © 2009 Cambridge University Press.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-115
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010