Young children’s elicited productions of modal words: children differentiate modal “flavors” and forces

Corpus studies (Wells, 1979) and comprehension studies (Hirst & Weil, 1982; Ozturk & Papafragou, 2014) suggest that children have difficulty learning modal words (e.g., ‘can’, ‘must’). This is standardly attributed to conceptual or pragmatic difficulties (Papafragou, 1998; Noveck, 2001). We use a sentence-repair task to show that children’s difficulty arises instead from the many-to-one mapping between modal meanings and forms.


The road to rope: Lexical cohort competition and executive functioning in early school-age children.

Abstract: The relationship between the human language faculty and domain-general executive functions (EFs) such as inhibition has become an area of great interest in recent years. In addition to the purported relationship between bilingualism and EFs (e.g. Bialystok, 2001), multiple studies have found a relationship between EFs and syntactic/semantic processing in children (Minai et al., 2012; Höhle et al., 2016). However, little work exists examining the relationship between EFs and the processing of individual lexical items. In the present study, I focus on frequency effects in the visual world paradigm in order to study the relationship between EFs and lexical processing. Participants see four images on the screen, two of which start with the same sounds (e.g. road and rope). Initial results confirm increased competition when participants are asked to look to the lower-frequency item (rope) in the presence of the higher-frequency competitor (road), and I predict that this effect will be exacerbated in participants with lower EF scores.