New from Akira, Imogen, Takuya, Jeff and Colin
Just out in Language Learning and Development, "No Fear of Commitment: Children's Incremental Interpretation in English and Japanese Wh-Questions" by Akira Omaki, Imogen Davidson-White, Takuya Goro, Jeff Lidz and Colin Phillips. The paper explores whether children incrementally resolve filler-gap dependencies, using Japanese and English ambiguous wh-questions of the form "Where did Lizzie tell someone that she was gonna catch butterflies?", in which one could answer either the telling location (main clause interpretation) or the butterfly–catching location (embedded clause interpretation). It finds that English-speaking adults and children generally prefer the main clause interpretation, whereas Japanese adults and children both prefer the embedded clause interpretation. Also, Japanese children were unable to inhibit their embedded clause interpretation bias when the sentence was manipulated to syntactically block such analyses. These findings suggest that syntactic and interpretability cues may have distinct impacts on children’s sentence comprehension processes.