English-speaking preschoolers can use phrasal prosody for syntactic parsing

Alex De Carvalho*, Jeffrey Lidz, Lyn Tieu, Tonia Bleam, Anne Christophe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This study tested American preschoolers' ability to use phrasal prosody to constrain their syntactic analysis of locally ambiguous sentences containing noun/verb homophones (e.g., [The baby flies] [hide in the shadows] vs [The baby] [flies his kite], brackets indicate prosodic boundaries). The words following the homophone were masked, such that prosodic cues were the only disambiguating information. In an oral completion task, 4- to 5-year-olds successfully exploited the sentence's prosodic structure to assign the appropriate syntactic category to the target word, mirroring previous results in French (but challenging previous English-language results) and providing cross-linguistic evidence for the role of phrasal prosody in children's syntactic analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)EL216-EL222
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Volume139
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2016 Acoustical Society of America. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the Acoustical Society of America. The following article appeared in Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 139(6), pp. EL216 - EL222 and may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4954385.

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