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Academic Paper


Title: Tuning information packaging: intonational realization of topic and focus in child Dutch
Author: Aoju Chen
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://www.mpi.nl/world/persons/profession/aojuchen.html
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: Dutch
Abstract: This study examined how four- to five-year-olds and seven- to eight-year-olds used intonation (accent placement and accent type) to encode topic and focus in Dutch. Naturally spoken declarative sentences with either sentence-initial topic and sentence-final focus or sentence-initial focus and sentence-final topic were elicited via a picture-matching game. Results showed that the four- to five-year-olds were adult-like in topic-marking, but were not yet fully adult-like in focus-marking, in particular, in the use of accent type in sentence-final focus (i.e. showing no preference for H*L). Between age five and seven, the use of accent type was further developed. In contrast to the four- to five-year-olds, the seven- to eight-year-olds showed a preference for H*L in sentence-final focus. Furthermore, they used accent type to distinguish sentence-initial focus from sentence-initial topic in addition to phonetic cues.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 38, Issue 5.

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