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The Development of Sentence Interpretation in Hungarian

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journal contribution
posted on 01.04.1985, 00:00 by Brian MacwhinneyBrian Macwhinney, Csaba Pléh, Elizabeth Bates
In order to test certain assumptions of the "competition model" of B. MacWhinney, E. Bates, and R. Kliegl (1984 Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 23, 127-150), we conducted three experiments on sentence understanding by Hungarian preschool children. According to the competition model, the listener uses verbal cues in a probabilistic manner to make judgments concerning the grammatical roles of the different noun phrases in a sentence. The order in which children develop control of these cues is said to depend on cue validity. The cues manipulated in these experiments included case marking, word order, animacy, stress, phonological detectability, and person of the possessor. The studies examined the impact of these cues on the choice of an agent. The results were well predicted by the competition model. Experiments 2 and 3 indicated that ungrammatical sentences are processed in ways similar to comparable grammatical sentences, thus supporting the ecological validity of the experimental method and of previous research based on the use of this method. There was also evidence for the use in Hungarian of (1) a first-noun-as-agent

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