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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

New from Cambridge University Press!


Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: Children's ability to answer different types of questions
Author: Dorothe Salome
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Author: Elena V. Lieven
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Author: Michael Tomasello
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Abstract: Young children answer many questions every day. The extent to which they do this in an adult-like way – following Grice's Maxim of Quantity by providing the requested information, no more no less – has been studied very little. In an experiment, we found that two-, three- and four-year-old children are quite skilled at answering argument-focus questions and predicate-focus questions with intransitives in which their response requires only a single element. But predicate-focus questions for transitives – requiring both the predicate and the direct object – are difficult for children below four years of age. Even more difficult for children this young are sentence-focus questions such as “What's happening?”, which give the child no anchor in given information around which to structure their answer. In addition, in a corpus study, we found that parents ask their children predicate-focus and sentence-focus questions very infrequently, thus giving children little experience with them.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 40, Issue 2.

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