Examining the role of lexical frequency in children's acquisition of sentential complements
Kidd, E., Lieven, E., & Tomasello, M.
Examining the role of lexical frequency in children's acquisition of sentential complements. Cognitive Development, 21
(2), 93-107. doi:10.1016/j.cogdev.2006.01.006.
We present empirical data showing that the relative frequency with which a verb normally appears in a syntactic construction predicts young children's ability to remember and repeat sentences instantiating that construction. Children aged 2;10–5;8 years were asked to repeat grammatical and ungrammatical sentential complement sentences (e.g., ‘I think + S’). The sentences contained complement-taking verbs (CTVs) used with differing frequencies in children's natural speech. All children repeated sentences containing high frequency CTVs (e.g., think) more accurately than those containing low frequency CTVs (e.g., hear), and made more sophisticated corrections to ungrammatical sentences containing high frequency CTVs. The data suggest that, like adults, children are sensitive to lexico-constructional collocations. The implications for language acquisition are discussed.