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The acquisition of personal pronouns in French-speaking and English-speaking children

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 June 1997

PASCALE C. GIROUARD
Affiliation:
University of Montreal
MARCELLE RICARD
Affiliation:
University of Montreal
THÉRÈSE GOUIN DÉCARIE
Affiliation:
University of Montreal

Abstract

This paper presents a longitudinal study on the acquisition of first, second, and third person pronouns in twelve French-speaking and twelve English-speaking children. Comprehension and production data were collected every two months, beginning when the subjects were aged 1;6 and ending once pronouns were fully acquired. Three hypotheses concerning the rules children develop in learning pronouns were tested: (1) the person-role hypothesis (Charney, 1980), (2) the speech-role hypothesis (Clark, 1978), and (3) the name hypothesis (Clark, 1978). An analysis of children's pronominal confusion when they were addressed listeners as well as when they were non-addressed listeners was performed. The results indicated that the mastery of pronouns did not follow the developmental sequence predicted by the speech-role hypothesis; they provided evidence for the person-role hypothesis only when children were speakers, and partially supported the name hypothesis. The data also suggested that pronominal confusion is not a rare phenomenon among children tested in a non-addressee context. Finally, effects of child gender and native language were observed. Possible interpretations of the data are discussed.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 1997 Cambridge University Press

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Footnotes

This research was supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to the second and third authors and by doctoral fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Fonds pour la formation de chercheurs et l'aide à la recherche of Quebec to the first author. Portions of this research were presented at the 13th ISSBD Biennial Meeting, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 1994. We are grateful to the children and parents whose cooperation made the study possible. We also wish to thank François Harel, Paul Morissette, and Manon St-Germain for their assistance in data collection and analysis.
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