Developmental effects in the online use of morphosyntactic cues in sentence processing: Evidence from Tagalog
Garcia, R., Garrido Rodriguez, G., & Kidd, E.
Developmental effects in the online use of morphosyntactic cues in sentence processing: Evidence from Tagalog. Cognition, 216
: 104859. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104859.
Children must necessarily process their input in order to learn it, yet the architecture of the developing parsing system and how it interfaces with acquisition is unclear. In the current paper we report experimental and corpus data investigating adult and children's use of morphosyntactic cues for making incremental online predictions of thematic roles in Tagalog, a verb-initial symmetrical voice language of the Philippines. In Study 1, Tagalog-speaking adults completed a visual world eye-tracking experiment in which they viewed pictures of causative actions that were described by transitive sentences manipulated for voice and word order. The pattern of results showed that adults process agent and patient voice differently, predicting the upcoming noun in the patient voice but not in the agent voice, consistent with the observation of a patient voice preference in adult sentence production. In Study 2, our analysis of a corpus of child-directed speech showed that children heard more patient voice- than agent voice-marked verbs. In Study 3, 5-, 7-, and 9-year-old children completed a similar eye-tracking task as used in Study 1. The overall pattern of results suggested that, like the adults in Study 1, children process agent and patient voice differently in a manner that reflects the input distributions, with children developing towards the adult state across early childhood. The results are most consistent with theoretical accounts that identify a key role for input distributions in acquisition and language processing