Evidence for robust abstract syntactic representations in production before age three

  • Anouschka Foltz, Karolin Knopf, Kristina Jonas, Petra Jaecks, Prisca Stenneken
  • First Language, February 2020, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0142723720905919

Children represent at least some grammar abstractly before the age of three.

Photo by Marisa Howenstine on Unsplash

Photo by Marisa Howenstine on Unsplash

What is it about?

Children can represent grammar in the brain in various ways. For example, grammatical structures can be tied to particular words or involve abstract categories such as "verb". Here we present evidence from children's productions that show that they represent at least some aspects of grammar abstractly before the age of three.

Why is it important?

This is the first production study that shows that children under three represent at least some aspects of grammar through abstract categories. Unlike previous studies, we used a task that is argued to directly tap into representations of grammar.

Perspectives

Anouschka Foltz
University of Graz

This article contributes to one of the big debates in the language acquisition literature, and I hope that it will generate a lot of discussion.

Read Publication

http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0142723720905919

The following have contributed to this page: Anouschka Foltz