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Title: How do 5 year olds understand questions? Differences in languages across Europe
Authors: Sauerland, Uli
Grohmann, Kleanthes K.
Guasti, Maria Teresa
Andelkovic, Darinka
Argus, Reili
Armon-Lotem, Sharon
Arosio, Fabrizio
Avram, Larisa
Costa, Joao
Dabasinskiene, Ineta
De Lopez, Kristine Jensen
Gatt, Daniela
Grech, Helen
Haman, Ewa
van Hout, Angeliek
Hrzica, Gordana
Kainhofer, Judith
Kamandulyte-Merfeldiene, Laura
Kunnari, Sari
Kovacevic, Melita
Kraljevic, Jelena Kuvac
Lipowska, Katarzyna
Mejias, Sandrine
Popovic, Masa
Ruzaite, Jurate
Savic, Maja
Sevcenco, Anca
Varlokosta, Spyridoula
Varnava, Marina
Yatsushiro, Kazuko
Keywords: Language acquisition
Language awareness in children -- Case studies
Children -- Language
Language Development
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Sage Publishing
Citation: Sauerland, U., Grohmann, K.K., Giuasti, M. T., Andjelkovic, D., Argus. R., Armon-Lotem, S.,...Yatsushiro, K. (2016). How do 5 year olds understand questions? Differences in languages across Europe. First Language, 36(3), 169-202.
Abstract: The comprehension of constituent questions is an important topic for language acquisition research and for applications in the diagnosis of language impairment. We present the results of a study investigating the comprehension of different types of questions by five year old, typically developing children across 19 European countries, 18 different languages, and 7 language (sub-)families. We studied the effects of two factors on question formation: a) whether the question contains a simple interrogative word like ‘who’ or a complex one like ‘which princess’, and b) whether the question word was related to the sentential subject or object position of the verb.We found that there is considerable variation among languages, but the two factors mentioned consistently affect children’s performance. The cross-linguistic variation shows that three linguistic factors facilitate children’s understanding of questions: having overt case morphology, having a single lexical item for both ‘who’ and ‘which’, and the use of synthetic verbal forms.
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