Children's ability to answer different types of questions.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Young children answer many questions every day. The extent to which they do this in an adult-like way - following Grice's Maxim of Quantity by providing the requested information, no more no less - has been studied very little. In an experiment, we found that two-, three- and four-year-old children are quite skilled at answering argument-focus questions and predicate-focus questions with intransitives in which their response requires only a single element. But predicate-focus questions for transitives - requiring both the predicate and the direct object - are difficult for children below four years of age. Even more difficult for children this young are sentence-focus questions such as "What's happening?", which give the child no anchor in given information around which to structure their answer. In addition, in a corpus study, we found that parents ask their children predicate-focus and sentence-focus questions very infrequently, thus giving children little experience with them.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Salomo, D; Lieven, E; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • March 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 40 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 469 - 491

PubMed ID

  • 22436663

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1469-7602

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0305-0009

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1017/s0305000912000050

Language

  • eng