Relatives Children Say

Cecile McKee, Dana McDaniel, Jesse Snedeker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


In an experiment designed to elicit restrictive relatives clauses, 28 children ranging in age from 2;2 to 3;10 provided a corpus of communicatively appropriate relative clauses. In evaluating this corpus, we found that most children produced mostly adult relative clauses most of the time. Detailed study of these utterances uncovered a few error patterns, which we analyzed in light of several considerations (e.g., the overall frequency of an error type, its distribution across children and items, its relation to the construction under study, and the similarity of the error to what children do elsewhere). Only one error pattern, namely some children's production of inappropriate relative pronouns, is argued to reflect a systematic feature of language development. We conclude that children's ability to represent the syntactic structure of the embedded clause is on target very early.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-596
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of psycholinguistic research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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