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J Psycholinguist Res. 2002 Nov;31(6):599-617.

English-speaking children's comprehension of relative clauses: evidence for general-cognitive and language-specific constraints on development.

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School of Psychological Science, Faculty of Science, Technology, and Engineering, La Trobe University, Victoria 3086, Australia.


Children must possess some ability to process input in a meaningful manner to acquire language. The present study reports on data from an experiment investigating 3- to 5-year-old English-speaking children's understanding of restrictive relative clauses manipulated for embeddedness and focus. The results of the study showed that English-speaking children acquire right-branching before center-embedded structures. Comparisons made with data from Portuguese-speaking children suggest general-cognitive and language-specific constraints on development, and with respect to English, a "clause expansion" approach to processing in development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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