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By Orin Hargraves

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Title: The acquisition of causal connectives
Subtitle: The role of parental input and cognitive complexity
Written By: Rosie van Veen
Series Title: LOT dissertation series

During language acquisition children must learn to use causal connectives,
such as because. Acquiring these linguistics markers of causal coherence
relations between utterances can be regarded as learning one of the most
important ‘building blocks’ of language at a discourse level. This study
investigates how children’s use of causal connectives develops. It takes a
cross-linguistic approach by investigating the English causal connective
because as well as its German counterpart weil and the Dutch equivalents
want and omdat. Growth curve analysis is used to track young children’s
production of causal connectives in longitudinal corpora. This method is used
to investigate two factors that may influence connective acquisition. First, the
parental input: does parental connective use and parental scaffolding through
why-questions influence the development of causal connectives? Second,
the cognitive complexity of the causal relation: does the relative complexity
of objective and subjective causal relations influence the subsequent
development of these relations? As an additional measure, this study also
includes an innovative eye-tracking experiment – based on the preferential
looking paradigm – that test young children’s comprehension of causal
relations. Overall, results show that connective acquisition is an intricate
system in which cognitive complexity and parent-child interaction play an
important role.

Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics / Landelijke (LOT)
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BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science
Language Acquisition
Subject Language(s): English
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Format: Paperback
ISBN-13: 9789460930690