Tuning information packaging: Intonational realization of topic and focus in child Dutch
Tuning information packaging: Intonational realization of topic and focus in child Dutch. Journal of Child Language, 38
, 1055-1083. doi:10.1017/S0305000910000541.
This study examined how four- to five-year-olds and seven- to eight-year-olds used intonation (accent placement and accent type) to encode topic and focus in Dutch. Naturally spoken declarative sentences with either sentence-initial topic and sentence-final focus or sentence-initial focus and sentence-final topic were elicited via a picture-matching game. Results showed that the four- to five-year-olds were adult-like in topic-marking, but were not yet fully adult-like in focus-marking, in particular, in the use of accent type in sentence-final focus (i.e. showing no preference for H*L). Between age five and seven, the use of accent type was further developed. In contrast to the four- to five-year-olds, the seven- to eight-year-olds showed a preference for H*L in sentence-final focus. Furthermore, they used accent type to distinguish sentence-initial focus from sentence-initial topic in addition to phonetic cues.