Laurel in Language Acquision

Learn about Filler-gap dependency comprehension at 15 months from Laurel Perkins and Jeffrey Lidz in the new issue of Language Acquisition. The paper asks why 15-month-olds behave as if they comprehend filler-gap dependencies such as wh-questions and relative clauses. Do they, surprisingly, already represent such dependencies as adults do? Or are they following an interpretive heuristic, based on verb knowledge and an understanding of the task? Laurel and Jeff argue for the latter, based on a preferential looking study in which only children with higher vocabulary behave as if they comprehend wh-questions and relative clauses. This is predicted directly by the interpretive heuristic they suggest, but not by the alternative.