What influences children's conceptualizations of language input?

Elena Plante, Rebecca Vance, Amanda Moody, Louann Gerken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: Children learning language conceptualize the nature of input they receive in ways that allow them to understand and construct utterances they have never heard before. This study was designed to illuminate the types of information children with and without specific language impairment (SLI) focus on to develop their conceptualizations and whether they can rapidly shift their initial conceptualizations if provided with additional input. Method: In 2 studies, preschool children with and without SLI were exposed to an artificial language, the characteristics of which allowed for various types of conceptualizations about its fundamental properties. After being familiarized with the language, children were asked to judge test strings that conformed to the input in 1 of 4 different ways. Results: All children preferred test items that reflected a narrow conceptualization of the input (i.e., items most like those heard during familiarization). Children showed a strong preference for phonology as a defining property of the artificial language. Restructuring the input to the child could induce them to track word order information as well. Conclusion: Children tend toward narrow conceptualizations of language input, but the nature of their conceptualizations can be influenced by the nature of the input they receive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1613-1624
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013


  • Children
  • Language disorders
  • Specific language impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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