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Jellybeans… or Jelly, Beans…? 5-6-year-olds can identify the prosody of compounds but not lists

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 April 2021

Nan XU RATTANASONE*
Affiliation:
Department of Linguistics and Centre for Language Sciences, Macquarie University, Australia
Ivan YUEN
Affiliation:
Department of Linguistics and Centre for Language Sciences, Macquarie University, Australia
Rebecca HOLT
Affiliation:
Department of Linguistics and Centre for Language Sciences, Macquarie University, Australia
Katherine DEMUTH
Affiliation:
Department of Linguistics and Centre for Language Sciences, Macquarie University, Australia
*
Address for correspondence: Nan Xu Rattanasone (email: nan.xu@mq.edu.au)

Abstract

Learning to use word versus phrase level prosody to identify compounds from lists is thought to be a protracted process, only acquired by 11 years (Vogel & Raimy, 2002). However, a recent study has shown that 5-year-olds can use prosodic cues other than stress for these two structures in production, at least for early-acquired noun-noun compounds (Yuen et al., 2021). This raises the question of whether children this age can also use naturally-produced prosody to identify noun-noun compounds from their list forms in comprehension. The results show that 5-6-year-olds (N = 28) can only identify compounds. Unlike adults, children as a group could not use boundary cues to identify lists and were significantly slower in their processing compared to adults. This suggests that the acquisition of word level prosody may precede the acquisition of phrase level prosody, i.e., some higher-level aspects of phrasal prosody may take longer to acquire.

Type
Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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