This research was supported by NSERC, SSHRC, and CFI grants to the second author, and an NSERC scholarship to the first author. Parts of this study were presented at the BUCLD 34 meeting (Boston, 2009). We thank Amy Arnott, Andréane Melançon, Mireille Babineau, and Elena Koulaguina for their assistance. We also thank the four anonymous reviewers and the editor for their helpful comments.
Development of Abstract Grammatical Categorization in Infants
Article first published online: 22 OCT 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Child Development © 2012 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
Volume 84, Issue 2, pages 617–629, March/April 2013
How to Cite
Cyr, M. and Shi, R. (2013), Development of Abstract Grammatical Categorization in Infants. Child Development, 84: 617–629. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01869.x
- Issue published online: 18 MAR 2013
- Article first published online: 22 OCT 2012
This study examined abstract syntactic categorization in infants, using the case of grammatical gender. Ninety-six French-learning 14-, 17-, 20-, and 30-month-olds completed the study. In a preferential looking procedure infants were tested on their generalized knowledge of grammatical gender involving pseudonouns and gender-marking determiners. The pseudonouns were controlled to contain no phonological or acoustical cues to gender. The determiner gender feature was the only information available. During familiarization, some pseudonouns followed a masculine determiner and others a feminine determiner. Test trials presented the same pseudonouns with different determiners in correct (consistent with familiarization gender pairing) versus incorrect gender agreement. Twenty-month-olds showed emerging knowledge of gender categorization and agreement. This knowledge was robust in 30-month-olds. These findings demonstrate that abstract, productive grammatical representations are present early in acquisition.