You are here: Home Publications Quiet is the new loud: Pausing and focus in child and adult Dutch

Quiet is the new loud: Pausing and focus in child and adult Dutch

Romøren, A. S. H., & Chen, A. (2015). Quiet is the new loud: Pausing and focus in child and adult Dutch. Language and Speech, 58, 8-23. doi:10.1177/0023830914563589.
In a number of languages, prosody is used to highlight new information (or focus). In Dutch, focus is marked by accentuation, whereby focal constituents are accented and post-focal constituents are de-accented. Even if pausing is not traditionally seen as a cue to focus in Dutch, several previous studies have pointed to a possible relationship between pausing and information structure. Considering that Dutch-speaking 4 to 5 year olds are not yet completely proficient in using accentuation for focus and that children generally pause more than adults, we asked whether pausing might be an available parameter for children to manipulate for focus. Sentences with varying focus structure were elicited from 10 Dutch-speaking 4 to 5 year olds and 9 Dutch-speaking adults by means of a picture-matching game. Comparing pause durations before focal and non-focal targets showed pre-target pauses to be significantly longer when the targets were focal than when they were not. Notably, the use of pausing was more robust in the children than in the adults, suggesting that children exploit pausing to mark focus more generally than adults do, at a stage where their mastery of the canonical cues to focus is still developing. © The Author(s) 2015
About MPI

This is the MPI

The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.

 

Street address
Wundtlaan 1
6525 XD Nijmegen
The Netherlands


Mailing address
P.O. Box 310
6500 AH Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Phone:   +31-24-3521911
Fax:        +31-24-3521213
E-mail:   


Public Outreach Officer
Charlotte Horn