The acquisition of recursive modification in NPS

Ana T. Pérez-Leroux, Tyler Peterson, Anny Castilla-Earls, Susana Béjar, Diane Massam, Yves Roberge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Despite sensitivity to the contextual demands of modification, children struggle with the production of complex NPs. What syntactic or semantic properties of NP embedding specifically introduce complexity? We compare production of definite descriptions with two modifiers that contrast in the attachment of the second modifier: sequential vs. recursive modification. Children (n = 71) produced overall fewer targets than adults (n = 13), but both groups found double nonre-cursive modification (e.g. the plate with oranges under the table) much easier than recursive modification (e.g. the bird on the alligator in the water). We conclude that each embedding step introduces complexity beyond the elements and operations employed in the semantic composition of the structure, or the cyclic syntax that generates it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-359
Number of pages28
JournalLanguage
Volume94
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

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semantics
syntax
water
Group
Modifier
Syntax
Definite Descriptions
Contextual
Birds
Water
Semantic Properties

Keywords

  • Child language acquisition
  • Complex NPs
  • Embedding
  • Modification
  • PPs
  • Recursion
  • Syntax-semantics interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

Pérez-Leroux, A. T., Peterson, T., Castilla-Earls, A., Béjar, S., Massam, D., & Roberge, Y. (2018). The acquisition of recursive modification in NPS. Language, 94(2), 332-359. https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2018.0019

The acquisition of recursive modification in NPS. / Pérez-Leroux, Ana T.; Peterson, Tyler; Castilla-Earls, Anny; Béjar, Susana; Massam, Diane; Roberge, Yves.

In: Language, Vol. 94, No. 2, 01.06.2018, p. 332-359.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Pérez-Leroux, AT, Peterson, T, Castilla-Earls, A, Béjar, S, Massam, D & Roberge, Y 2018, 'The acquisition of recursive modification in NPS', Language, vol. 94, no. 2, pp. 332-359. https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2018.0019
Pérez-Leroux AT, Peterson T, Castilla-Earls A, Béjar S, Massam D, Roberge Y. The acquisition of recursive modification in NPS. Language. 2018 Jun 1;94(2):332-359. https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2018.0019
Pérez-Leroux, Ana T. ; Peterson, Tyler ; Castilla-Earls, Anny ; Béjar, Susana ; Massam, Diane ; Roberge, Yves. / The acquisition of recursive modification in NPS. In: Language. 2018 ; Vol. 94, No. 2. pp. 332-359.
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