Effects of Text Exposure on Spoken Sentence Production

Jessica MontagIndiana University
Maryellen MacDonaldUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison

Abstract

Adults are sophisticated language users, and there is much debate as to the maturational and experiential changes that occur throughout childhood to bring about these abilities. We propose that the onset of literacy may be an important event in the course of language development, as it marks a qualitative shift in the linguistic patterns to which an individual is exposed. In Experiment 1, we investigate the frequencies of two complex sentence types in child-directed speech and literature. In Experiment 2, these sentence types are elicited from eight and twelve year old children and adults in a picture-description production task. Differences between written and spoken language predict both group differences and individual differences in text exposure on the production task. Linguistic experience gained from reading may affect spoken production choices, and the onset of literacy may be an important predictor for what in the laboratory is deemed adult-like language use.

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