Error patterns in young German children's wh-questions.
In this article we report two studies: a detailed longitudinal analysis of errors in wh-questions from six German-learning children (age 2 ; 0-3 ; 0) and an analysis of the prosodic characteristics of wh-questions in German child-directed speech. The results of the first study demonstrate that German-learning children frequently omit the initial wh-word. A lexical analysis of wh-less questions revealed that children are more likely to omit the wh-word was ('what') than other wh-words (e.g. wo 'where'). In the second study, we performed an acoustic analysis of sixty wh-questions that one mother produced during her child's third year of life. The results show that the wh-word was is much less likely to be accented than the wh-word wo, indicating a relationship between children's omission of wh-words and the stress patterns associated with wh-questions. The findings are discussed in the light of discourse-pragmatic and metrical accounts of omission errors.
Schmerse, D; Lieven, E; Tomasello, M
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