Children's online use of word order and morphosyntactic markers in Tagalog thematic role assignment: an eye-tracking study

Rowena Garcia*, Jens Roeser, Barbara Höhle

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)

    Abstract

    We investigated whether Tagalog-speaking children incrementally interpret the first noun as the agent, even if verbal and nominal markers for assigning thematic roles are given early in Tagalog sentences. We asked five- and seven-year-old children and adult controls to select which of two pictures of reversible actions matched the sentence they heard, while their looks to the pictures were tracked. Accuracy and eye-tracking data showed that agent-initial sentences were easier to comprehend than patient-initial sentences, but the effect of word order was modulated by voice. Moreover, our eye-tracking data provided evidence that, by the first noun phrase, seven-year-old children looked more to the target in the agent-initial compared to the patient-initial conditions, but this word order advantage was no longer observed by the second noun phrase. The findings support language processing and acquisition models which emphasize the role of frequency in developing heuristic strategies (e.g., Chang, Dell, & Bock, 2006).

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)533-555
    Number of pages23
    JournalJournal of Child Language
    Volume47
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - May 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

    Keywords

    • Tagalog acquisition
    • sentence comprehension
    • word order
    • morphosyntax
    • thematic role assignment

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