The impact of animacy and speech rhythm on the word order of conjuncts in German preschoolers and adults

  • In this study, we investigated the impact of two constraints on the linear order of constituents in German preschool children’s and adults’ speech production: a rhythmic (*LAPSE, militating against sequences of unstressed syllables) and a semantic one (ANIM, requiring animate referents to be named before inanimate ones). Participants were asked to produce coordinated bare noun phrases in response to picture stimuli (e.g., Delfin und Planet, ‘dolphin and planet’) without any predefined word order. Overall, children and adults preferably produced animate items before inanimate ones, confirming findings of Prat-Sala, Shillcock, and Sorace (2000). In the group of preschoolers, the strength of the animacy effect correlated positively with age. Furthermore, the order of the conjuncts was affected by the rhythmic constraint, such that disrhythmic sequences, i.e., stress lapses, were avoided. In both groups, the latter result was significant when the two stimulus pictures did not vary with respect to animacy. In sum, our findings suggest a stronger influence of animacy compared to rhythmic well-formedness on conjunct ordering for German speaking children and adults, in line with findings by McDonald, Bock, and Kelly (1993) who investigated English speaking adults.

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Author:Isabelle FranzGND, Gerrit KentnerORCiDGND, Frank DomahsORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):Laboratory phonology
Publisher:Ubiquity Press
Place of publication:London
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2021/06/25
Date of first Publication:2021/06/25
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2023/05/24
Tag:adults; animacy; children; picture naming; rhythm; word order
Issue:1, art. 12
Article Number:12
Page Number:38
First Page:1
Last Page:38
Institutes:Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaften / Sprachwissenschaften
Angeschlossene und kooperierende Institutionen / MPI für empirische Ästhetik
Dewey Decimal Classification:4 Sprache / 43 Deutsch, germanische Sprachen allgemein / 430 Germanische Sprachen; Deutsch
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International