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Wh-Questions: Linguistic Factors That Contribute to the Sequence of Acquisition

Bloom, Lois; Merkin, Susan; Wootten, Janet

The language development of 7 children was observed longitudinally from 2 to 3 years of age. The sequence in which these children learned to ask the forms of wh-questions with verbs was what, where, and who before how, why, and when, which is the same sequence that has been observed in other studies of the acquisition of first and second language. This sequence has been explained most often in terms of constraints on abstract thought in cognitive development. The purpose of the present study was to identify and describe other factors that contribute to the cognitive requirements for acquisition, and to examine how these factors covary developmentally with the meaning of the different wh-forms. Specifically, 3 kinds of linguistic constraints were observed to differentiate among wh-questions and contribute to their sequence of acquisition: (a) the syntactic functions of different wh-forms; (b) the selection of verbs in wh-questions; and (c) the use of wh-questions in discourse.


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Language development from two to three
Cambridge University Press

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Academic Units
Human Development
Published Here
July 20, 2016