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The effects of givenness on word order in ditransitive structures in Croatian child language Marta Velnić FASL 26, 20.5.2017
Introduction • This research investigates how monolingual Croatian children implement different givenness values in their ditransitive structures • How the givenness of an object influences the ordering of the two objects: indirect-direct (IO-DO) vs. direct-indirect (DO-IO) • The study consists in an elicitation of ditransitive sentences in 5 givenness and 2 animacy conditions
Ditransitive structures in Croatian • Croatian is a free word order language so the two objects can be rearranged without recurring to structural variation (like dative alternation in English)
The effect of givenness on word order • Given>new principle: if all other factors are equal, speakers will prefer to place the information that is familiar to the listener first and place the new information later • Ditransitive structures can accommodate the given>new principle by having the given object precede the new one • Slavic languages also follow this principle: Grzegorek (1984) states that Polish utterances are governed by a communicative principle, meaning that old (given) information is placed pre-verbally while new information is marked by clause final position; Kucerova (2012) finds that in Czech, Russian, and Croatian givenness is always marked with the given elements preceding the new ones, and a new>given order is ungrammatical • Velnic (in progress) found an effect of givenness in a survey consisting of various G and AN contexts conducted on the adult population; the study also found a preference for DO-IO order when animacy was neutralized • Velnic (submitted) found children's instances of new>given order in corpus data; only given>new order was found in the adult portion
Studies on givenness in child language • Given>new preference: Snyder (2003)- progressive effect of givenness; Anderssen et al. (2014)- pragmatic appropriateness either by word order or by omission; Stephens (2015)- withthemes (DO) children categorically produced the PD (DO-IO order), with given recipients (IO) the DOD (IO-DO) was more likely to be produced • New>given preference: Bates (1976)- subject final sentences; Baker (1988)- at a one word stage children express new information and at a two word stage they use new>given; Narasimhan and Dimroth (2008)- new>given preference in an elicitation task of NP-NP pairings • No effect of givenness on word order: Mykhaylyk et al. (2013)- find more target-like responses with given IOs than with given themes DOs as children predominantly produce the IO-DO order; Hohle et al. (2014)- children produced definiteness violations (*indef>def) more readily than word order violations (IO-DO)
Summary • In the studies that find a given>new effect the PD (DO-IO) is more widely accepted • In Mykhaylyk et al. (2013) and Höhle et al. (2014) the preferred order is IO-DO and the children tend not to deviate from it • Croatian corpus data (DODB corpus) also shows an overwhelming production of IO-DO • We can expect Croatian children to be less prone to deviate from the preferred IO-DO order than to comply to the given>new principle of the task
Studies on animacy in child language • Animate>inanimate • Animacy related to the IO • Snyder (2003) – 3-year-olds are very attentive to animacy with regard to their ditransitive choices and rely less on animacy as they grow older • De Marneffe et al. (2012)- Children acquire it very early, around the age of two • Branigan (2008)- animate entities are conceptually highly accessible and therefore retrieved more easily
Research questions Predictions • Do children use different word orders to mark the different givenness conditions of the two objects? • Is there a clearer effect of givenness when animacy is neutralized? • Do children pay more attention to animacy than the adults? • Children will prefer IO-DO, we do not predict to what extent it will obscure their pragmatic word order preference, but we should be able to observe how givenness affects word order when givenness goes against IO-DO (DO-G) • Clearer effect when givenness is the only factor guiding word order • Animacy will be a more relevant factor in children than in the controls as we expect adults to conform more to givenness in both conditions
Methodology • 4(5) givenness conditions: No-G (No-G+S-G), DO-G, IO-G, All-G • 2 animacy conditions: DO-inanimate and IO animate (prototypical) and both animate • 3 image Sets: give, offer, and send • Materials: puzzle board, action images (target): 5 per each set, and single images: 4 per each set • Participants: 58 monolingual Croatian children between the ages of 3;8-5;2 (mean age=4;4), 26 males) and 36 adults between the ages of 19-28 (mean=21, 8 males) as controls
NA data Participants: • We have excluded all participants that never varied their word order across the task (children=13, adults=7) • The non-varying children used only IO-DO and the adults only DO-IO Answers: • We have excluded all the answers that were: silence, no ditransitive structure, non-intelligible case error, referent inversion, omission of an object, and use of different structure (PP or relative clause) • The answers were regrouped based on their actual givenness • Total data children: 481 • Total data controls: 361
Results: DO-inanimate condition (controls) • The controls indistinctively begin with one order • Increase of DO-IO in the DO-G condition, significantly higher when compared to the two baseline conditions: No-G (p-value=0.004) and All-G (p-value=0.008). • An indication of given>new
Results: DO-inanimate condition (children) • Preference for IO-DO throughout the task • The DO-G condition has the lowest proportion of DO-IO • Indication of new>given • We conducted a linear mixed model and it revealed that DO-G differs significantly from No-G (p-value=0.02) but not from the All-G • Again, no difference in IO-G from the baseline
Results: both animate condition (controls) • No longer at chance level: DO-IO is at ceiling level • No givenness effect • Animacy effect: when compared to the previous condition (p-value=2.81e-06), there is no animate-first requirement and the participants can use their preferred word order (DO-IO)
Results: both animate condition (children) • Considerable increase of DO-IO • No statistical difference between the conditions • Animacy obviously has an effect: (p-value=8.96e-08) when compared to the previous animacy condition • There is no more trace of the new>given possibility
Conclusion • We found no effect of givenness in the child data, neither in the prototypical animacy situation nor when both objects are animate • So the effects of givenness is not clearer when animacy is not a factor, since there is no effect of givenness to begin with • The lack of G-effect can be due to the incompatibility of the task (since there is no effect on adults either), or that the children are not grasping givenness yet and stick to their preferred word order • Both children and adults change word order when DO-G (IO-animate condition): the adults use more DO-IO (as expected), but the children us it less with respect to the rest of the task • Children and adults have a different preferred word order: IO-DO for the former and DO-IO for the latter
Conclusion (cont.) • Animacy is a relevant factor both for children and adults • Children prefer IO-DO, so when the IO is animate this is the dominant word order, when animacy is balanced they go to chance level and use either word order • Adults prefer DO-IO, so we can see an equal distribution of the two word orders when the IO is animate, but when both are animate DO-IO productions go at ceiling level. • So, contrary to our prediction, it seems that animacy is a very relevant factor for both children and adults Thank You QUESTIONS?
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