Verb-Mediated Prediction in Bilingual Toddlers
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionFrontiers in Psychology. 2021, 12 . 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.719447
Prediction is an important mechanism for efficient language processing. It has been shown that as a part of sentence processing, both children and adults predict nouns based on semantically constraining verbs. Language proficiency is said to modulate prediction: the higher proficiency, the better the predictive skill. Children growing up acquiring two languages are often more proficient in one of them, and as such, investigation of the predictive ability in young bilingual children can shed light on the role of language proficiency. Furthermore, according to production-based models, the language production system drives the predictive ability. The present study investigates whether bilingual toddlers predict upcoming nouns based on verb meanings in both their languages, and whether this ability is associated with expressive vocabulary. Seventeen Norwegian-English bilingual toddlers (aged 2;5–3;3), dominant in Norwegian, participated in the study. Verb-mediated predictive ability was measured via a visual world paradigm (VWP) experiment, including sentences with semantically constraining and neutral verbs. Expressive vocabulary was measured by MacArthurBates CDI II. The results suggested that the toddler group predicted upcoming noun arguments in both their dominant and non-dominant languages, but were faster in their dominant language. This finding highlights the importance of language dominance for predictive processing. There was no significant relationship between predictive ability and expressive vocabulary in either language.
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