The acquisition of causal connectives: The role of parental input and cognitive complexity

Author: Rosie van Veen
LOT Number: 286
ISBN: 978-94-6093-069-0
Pages: 225
Year: 2011
€32.00
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The acquisition of causal connectives

The role of parental input and cognitive complexity

During language acquisition children must learn to use causal connectives,
such as because. Acquiring these linguistics markers of causal coherence rela -
tions between utterances can be regarded as learning one of the most impor -
tant ‘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 com -
plexity 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.

The acquisition of causal connectives

The role of parental input and cognitive complexity

During language acquisition children must learn to use causal connectives,
such as because. Acquiring these linguistics markers of causal coherence rela -
tions between utterances can be regarded as learning one of the most impor -
tant ‘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 com -
plexity 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.

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