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The development of linguistic prediction: predictions of sound and meaning in 2-to-5 year olds

Gambi, Chiara, Gorrie, Fiona, Pickering, Martin J and Rabagliati, Hugh 2018. The development of linguistic prediction: predictions of sound and meaning in 2-to-5 year olds. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 173 , pp. 351-370. 10.1016/j.jecp.2018.04.012

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Abstract

Language processing in adults is facilitated by an expert ability to generate detailed predictions about upcoming words. This may seem like an acquired skill, but some models of language acquisition assume that the ability to predict is a pre-requisite for learning. This raises a question: Do children learn to predict, or do they predict to learn? We tested whether children, like adults, can generate expectations about not just the meanings of upcoming words but, also, their sounds, which would be critical for using prediction to learn about language. In two looking-while-listening experiments, we show that two-year-olds can generate expectations about meaning based on a determiner (Can you see one…ball/two…ice-creams?), but that even children as old as five do not show an adult-like ability to predict the phonology of upcoming words based on a determiner (Can you see a…ball/an…ice-cream?). Our results therefore suggest that the ability to generate detailed predictions is a late-acquired skill. We argue that prediction may not be the key mechanism driving children’s learning, but that the ability to generate accurate semantic predictions may nevertheless have facilitative effects of language development.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0022-0965
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 April 2018
Date of Acceptance: 19 April 2018
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2019 21:56
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/110873

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