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Learning to construct sentences in Spanish: a replication of the Weird Word Order technique

  • Javier AGUADO-OREA (a1), Hannah WITHERSTONE (a1), Lisa BOURGEOIS (a2) and Ana BASELGA (a3)

Abstract

In the present study, children's early ability to organise words into sentences was investigated using the Weird Word Order procedure with Spanish-speaking children. Spanish is a language that allows for more flexibility in the positions of subjects and objects, with respect to verbs, than other previously studied languages (English, French, and Japanese). As in prior studies (Abbot-Smith et al., 2001; Chang et al., 2009; Franck et al., 2011; Matthews et al., 2005, 2007), we manipulated the relative frequency of verbs in training sessions with two age groups (three- and four-year-old children). Results supported earlier findings with regard to frequency: children produced atypical word orders significantly more often with infrequent verbs than with frequent verbs. The findings from the present study support probabilistic learning models which allow higher levels of flexibility and, in turn, oppose hypotheses that defend early access to advanced grammatical knowledge.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: E-mail: j.aguado-orea@shu.ac.uk

References

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Keywords

Learning to construct sentences in Spanish: a replication of the Weird Word Order technique

  • Javier AGUADO-OREA (a1), Hannah WITHERSTONE (a1), Lisa BOURGEOIS (a2) and Ana BASELGA (a3)

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