One outgrowth of psycholinguists' increasing attention to languages with various structural features is the Competition Model (CM) of MacWhinney and Bates (1989). Invoking emergentist concepts from functional linguistics and cognitive psychology, this model seeks to integrate the traditions of L1 acquisition, L2 acquisition, and adult processing research without relying on hard-wiring of principles from Universal Grammar.
This chapter will outline the model, and then review some of the major findings of research it has inspired, with a focus on sentence comprehension in Japanese and Korean.
Outline of the competition model
Cue coalition and competition
Although the Competition Model addresses issues in both production and comprehension, the majority of studies have focused on comprehension, because it is easier to control experimentally. Many of those studies have examined comprehension of simple sentences with two noun phrases and one transitive verb phrase. Others have looked at comprehension of datives (McDonald, 1987), causatives (Sasaki, 1998), relative clauses (MacWhinney & Pleh, 1988), and pronouns (McDonald & MacWhinney, 1995), as well as sentence production (Bates & Devescovi, 1989).
In standard CM experiments, participants listen to sentences and then judge which of the two nouns was the actor. Young children do this by selecting between toys, or enacting the scene with them (enactment task). Older children and adults may press a button or name the noun.