Fast mapping in linguistic context: Processing and complexity effects
Arnold, Alison Reese
Huang, Yi Ting
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Young children readily use syntactic cues for word learning in structurally-simple contexts (Naigles, 1990). However, developmental differences in children's language processing abilities might interfere with their access to syntactic cues when novel words are presented in structurally-challenging contexts. To understand the role of processing on syntactic bootstrapping, we used an eye-tracking paradigm to examine children's fast-mapping abilities in active (structurally-simple) and passive (structurally-complex) sentences. Actions after sentences indicated children were more successful mapping words in passive sentences when novel words were presented in NP2 ("The seal will be quickly eaten by the blicket") than when novel words were presented in NP1 ("The blicket will be quickly eaten by the seal"), indicating presenting more prominent nouns in NP1 increases children's agent-first bias and sabotages interpretation of passives. Later recall data indicate children were less likely to remember new words in structurally-challenging contexts.