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Does sentence stress affect children's learning of new nouns and verbs?

Heather, C; (2005) Does sentence stress affect children's learning of new nouns and verbs? Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The study investigated the effects of prosody on children's learning of novel words. It was hypothesised that children would learn novel words that carried sentence-final stress more easily than those which did not. Thirteen pre school children aged 3 0 to 4 6 were exposed to two novel nouns and two novel verbs during a picture-making activity over two sessions, one week apart. After the activity, each child was then tested for production and comprehension of the two novel words taught in the session. It was found that both syntactic category of word and sentence-final stress had an influence on comprehension scores. Significantly more children scored zero on comprehension of unstressed rather than stressed verbs, indicating that the unstressed verbs were significantly harder to learn. Also, significantly more children scored zero on comprehension of unstressed verbs in comparison with unstressed nouns, indicating that there was increased difficulty in learning verbs compared to nouns in the unstressed conditions. Only one child scored a mark for production when tested, and therefore the production data were insufficient for analysis. However, from the small number of spontaneous utterances produced, it was observed that the children followed similar patterns in production of the novel words as with comprehension. There were more spontaneous utterances of the stressed novel word than the unstressed novel word within each syntactic category, and there were more spontaneous utterances using nouns than verbs. The study suggests that sentence-final stress has a significant effect on children's ability to learn novel verbs.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Does sentence stress affect children's learning of new nouns and verbs?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1568269
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