Location: 3401 Walnut Street, Room 401B
Rutgers University Center for Cognitive Science
What do you think what’s up with these mistakes? A cross-linguistic investigation into child and adult errors in complex questions
Previous research has shown children acquiring English make consistent, predictable errors in production (e.g., Thornton, 1990) and comprehension (e.g., de Villiers & Roeper, 1995) of complex questions. The exact cause of these errors is debated and harkens back to the “competence vs performance” discussion. Because these errors resemble viable constructions of non-English languages, it is possible that children are incorrect about some aspect of the target grammar (e.g., de Villiers & Roeper, 1995). However, it is also possible that these errors are the result of immature processing mechanisms which interfere with children’s performance when asking or answering complex questions (e.g., Lutken, Legendre & Omaki, 2020; Liter, Grolla & Lidz, 2022). Today’s talk will discuss multiple experiments relevant to this debate. I will begin with a brief discussion of questions cross-linguistically, including an examination of Polish questions which is currently ongoing. I will then discuss work investigating the production and comprehension of complex questions by children acquiring English as well as children acquiring German. Finally, I will discuss a series of experiments investigating errors of comprehension made by English-speaking adults when given tasks to limit their processing abilities.