Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 September 2008
We used a syntactic priming paradigm to show priming effects for active and passive forms in monolingual Spanish-speaking four- and five-year-olds. In a baseline experiment, we examined children's use of the fue-passive form and found it was virtually non-existent in their speech, although they produced important elements of the form. Children used a more frequent Spanish passive form, the subjectless/se-passive. In a priming experiment, we presented children with drawings described using either active or fue-passive sentences. Children then described novel drawings. Priming was induced for active and passive forms; however, children did not produce the fue-passive provided for them. Instead, children used the subjectless/se-passive and what we term the function-passive, which like the fue-passive, emphasize the patient of the action. We argue that children's use of different passive forms suggests they are sensitive to experimenter's input as it relates to scene interpretation and to syntax.
This paper was supported by a travel stipend awarded to the first author by the University of Chicago's Language Development Training Grant #T32 HD 43729-01A1, PI: Janellen Huttenlocher and the University of Chicago's Psychology Graduate Student Organization. The authors would like to thank Fabiola Montiel for her help with subject recruitment and data collection for this paper.
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