Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/283672
Title:
From Sound to Syntax: The Prosodic Bootstrapping of Clauses
Author:
Hawthorne, Kara Eileen
Issue Date:
2013
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
It has long been argued that prosodic cues may facilitate syntax acquisition (e.g., Morgan, 1986). Previous studies have shown that infants are sensitive to violations of typical correlations between clause-final prosodic cues (Hirsh-Pasek et al., 1987) and that prosody facilitates memory for strings of words (Soderstrom et al., 2005). This dissertation broaches the question of whether children can use this information in syntax acquisition by asking if learners can use the prosodic correlates of clauses to locate syntactic constituents. One property of certain syntactic constituents in natural languages is that they can move, so learning of constituency was inferred if participants treated prosodically-grouped words as cohesive, moveable chunks. In Experiment 1, 19-month-olds were familiarized with sentences from an artificial grammar with either 1-clause or 2-clause prosody. The infants from the 2-clause group later recognized the prosodically-marked clauses when they had moved to a new position in the sentence and had a new acoustic contour. Adults in Experiment 2 showed similar learning, although their judgments also rely on recognition of perceptually-salient words at prosodic boundaries. Subsequent experiments explored the mechanisms underlying this prosodic bootstrapping by testing Japanese-acquiring infants on English-based stimuli (Experiment 3) and English-acquiring infants on Japanese-based stimuli (Experiment 4). Infants were able to locate constituent-like groups of words with both native and non-native prosody, suggesting that the acoustic correlates of prosody are sufficiently robust across languages that they can be used in early syntax acquisition without extensive exposure to language-specific prosodic features. On the other hand, adults (Experiment 5) are less flexible, and are only able to use prosody consistent with their native language, suggesting an age- or experience-related tuning of the prosodic perceptual mechanism. This dissertation supports prosody as an important cue that allows infants and young children to break into syntax even before they understand many words, and helps explain the rapid rate of syntax acquisition.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
prosodic bootstrapping; prosody; syntax acquisition; Linguistics; language development
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; Linguistics
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Gerken, LouAnn

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoenen_US
dc.titleFrom Sound to Syntax: The Prosodic Bootstrapping of Clausesen_US
dc.creatorHawthorne, Kara Eileenen_US
dc.contributor.authorHawthorne, Kara Eileenen_US
dc.date.issued2013-
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractIt has long been argued that prosodic cues may facilitate syntax acquisition (e.g., Morgan, 1986). Previous studies have shown that infants are sensitive to violations of typical correlations between clause-final prosodic cues (Hirsh-Pasek et al., 1987) and that prosody facilitates memory for strings of words (Soderstrom et al., 2005). This dissertation broaches the question of whether children can use this information in syntax acquisition by asking if learners can use the prosodic correlates of clauses to locate syntactic constituents. One property of certain syntactic constituents in natural languages is that they can move, so learning of constituency was inferred if participants treated prosodically-grouped words as cohesive, moveable chunks. In Experiment 1, 19-month-olds were familiarized with sentences from an artificial grammar with either 1-clause or 2-clause prosody. The infants from the 2-clause group later recognized the prosodically-marked clauses when they had moved to a new position in the sentence and had a new acoustic contour. Adults in Experiment 2 showed similar learning, although their judgments also rely on recognition of perceptually-salient words at prosodic boundaries. Subsequent experiments explored the mechanisms underlying this prosodic bootstrapping by testing Japanese-acquiring infants on English-based stimuli (Experiment 3) and English-acquiring infants on Japanese-based stimuli (Experiment 4). Infants were able to locate constituent-like groups of words with both native and non-native prosody, suggesting that the acoustic correlates of prosody are sufficiently robust across languages that they can be used in early syntax acquisition without extensive exposure to language-specific prosodic features. On the other hand, adults (Experiment 5) are less flexible, and are only able to use prosody consistent with their native language, suggesting an age- or experience-related tuning of the prosodic perceptual mechanism. This dissertation supports prosody as an important cue that allows infants and young children to break into syntax even before they understand many words, and helps explain the rapid rate of syntax acquisition.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectprosodic bootstrappingen_US
dc.subjectprosodyen_US
dc.subjectsyntax acquisitionen_US
dc.subjectLinguisticsen_US
dc.subjectlanguage developmenten_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineLinguisticsen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorGerken, LouAnnen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberGomez, Rebeccaen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberHarley, Heidien_US
dc.contributor.committeememberOhala, Dianeen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberGerken, LouAnnen_US
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