Word order preferences of Tagalog-speaking adults and children
This article investigates the word order preferences of Tagalog-speaking adults and five- and seven-year-old children. The participants were asked to complete sentences to describe pictures depicting actions between two animate entities. Adults preferred agent-initial constructions in the patient voice but not in the agent voice, while the children produced mainly agent-initial constructions regardless of voice. This agent-initial preference, despite the lack of a close link between the agent and the subject in Tagalog, shows that this word order preference is not merely syntactically-driven (subject-initial preference). Additionally, the children’s agent-initial preference in the agent voice, contrary to the adults’ lack of preference, shows that children do not respect the subject-last principle of ordering Tagalog full noun phrases. These results suggest that language-specific optional features like a subject-last principle take longer to be acquired.
Publication typeJournal article