An Investigation into the Phonological and Syntactic Representations Involved in Language Production of Adults and Children: A Study Using the Paradigm of Syntactic Priming
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There are many theories of lexical access, which provide extensive accounts of lexical representations in the production process,( Levelt,1982,1999. Dell. 1986 ). In the present study we attempt to determine the relationship between the syntactic and phonological components of these representations. Primarily looking at whether this relationship is the same in children and adults. The study used 16 adult and 16 child participants. The children were aged between 3 and 4. We used the paradigm of syntactic priming, in an attempt to determine whether or not participants were more likely to produce a Noun Relative Clause utterance, just after they had comprehended the same structure. Also looking at whether or not children were more susceptible to this than adults. We also tested for a ‘learning effect’. The task used for priming was a game of ‘snap’ adapted from Branigan, Mclean and Jones, (2005). In the ‘game’ pictures were described one by one in turn. Firstly by the experimenter: ‘the prime’ and then by the participant: ‘the target’. Each Prime and Target pair counted as one item of the experiment. There was a main effect of prime for both the adult and child participants; this was significantly larger in the child participants. There was also a significant effect of ‘learning’ for the child participants but not the adults. There was a significant main effect of phonological relatedness in the adult group but not the child. There was also an interaction between prime and Phonological relatedness in the adult participants, where participants were more likely to be primed if the noun ‘heads’ were phonologically related. The results seem to indicate that phonological feedback is apparent in adults but not children, suggesting that the processes and representations involved in language production are not identical for adults and children.