Structural Priming of the Dative Form in Children aged 3 and 4 Years Old
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Studies of syntactic priming have convincingly shown that adults have abstract syntactic representations of language. Though studies have found this effect in 5 year old children, the effects have not been consistently found in younger children. This study uses a method which has yielded significant results in the study of noun-phrase priming in children, and directly compares the results of 3 and 4 year olds to those of adults. The results showed that both children and adults were primed by dative sentences (both prepositional and double-object datives), and significantly, that there was no difference between the adults’ and children’s scores. The findings suggest that children as young as 3 years of age do have abstract syntactic representations of the dative form, and that these representations may be similar to those of adults.