General programme, activity sheet

Friday 19 September, 2014 16:30 to 17:00 Oral presentation
Anaphoricity and the acquisition of imperfective aspect
Authors: Isabel García del Real Marco & Maria José Ezeizabarrena


Although some studies on the acquisition of grammatical aspect have reported adult-like comprehension of perfective and imperfective (IPF) morphemes at the age of 3 (Vinnitskaya & Wexler, 2001), some more recent studies concluded that the comprehension of IPF is not yet adult-like at age 5. Children’s non adult-like interpretation of the IPF has been attributed to the anaphoric nature of the IPF and to children’s difficulties linking the IPF to the relevant time in the discourse when testing IPF in narrative contexts (van Hout 2008) and to the lack of an explicit time interval of reference (RefT) in the experiment (Kazanina & Philips 2007). The present study investigates whether children’s comprehension of Spanish IPF forms is affected by the discourse setting of the experiment in order to know to what extent the anaphoric properties of IPF forms are problematic for children. A picture selection task was carried out with the same materials but in three different experimental settings: 1) in a narrative without RefT; b) in a narrative with a durative RefT –a while clause with a durative event– and c) in a narrative with a punctual RefT –a when clause with a punctual event–. In the experiment, subjects had to relate PF and IPF telic predicates to pictures of complete, incomplete or ongoing events. 26 five year-old children were tested. Result shows that the comprehension of Spanish IPF pretérito imperfecto in a narrative (58% of target responses) improves when a durative RefT is provided (78% target responses) but not when a pucntual RefT is provided (56% target responses). These results confirm that children’s difficulties with the anaphoricity of the IPF can be overcome when a RefT is made explicit in a narrative task. However, not all kinds of RefT ease the task in the same way.
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Paper session E
Place: Main Room

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