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Academic Paper

Title: How the parts relate to the whole: Frequency effects on children's interpretations of novel compounds
Author: Andrea Krott
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Birmingham
Author: Christina L. Gagne
Institution: University of Western Ontario
Author: Elena Nicoladis
Institution: University of Alberta
Linguistic Field: Syntax
Abstract: This study explores different frequency effects on children's interpretations of novel noun–noun compounds (e.g. egg bag as ‘bag FOR eggs’). We investigated whether four- to five-year-olds and adults use their knowledge of related compounds and their modifier–head relations (e.g. sandwich bag (FOR) or egg white (PART-OF)) when explaining the meaning of novel compounds and/or whether they are affected by overall frequency of modifier–head relations in their vocabulary. Children's interpretations were affected by their experience with relations in compounds with the same head, but not by overall relation frequency. Adults' interpretations were affected by their experience with relations in compounds with the same modifier, suggesting that children and adults use similar but different knowledge to interpret compounds. Furthermore, only children's interpretations revealed an overuse of visually perceivable relations.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 36, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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