Gervain Judit (Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception, Paris)

Phrasal prosody and word frequency bootstrap word order: A cross-linguistic study in adults and prelexical infants


Basic word order or word order type is one of the most fundamental properties of a language's surface syntax. Yet, it shows variation across languages. Thus young infants need to learn the word order properties of their native language(s) from the input they receive. In this talk, I will report corpus data as well as behavioral evidence from 7-8-month-old (i.e. prelexical) infants as well as adults that two surface features, phrasal prosody and word frequency, which are correlated with word order type, might serve as cues to word order. I will discuss these results in a bootstrapping model of early language acquisition.