SSHRC insight grant “Development of noun phrase complexity in children. (A.T. Pérez-Leroux (PI), Y. Roberge (co-PI), SSHRC 435-2014-2000, 2014-2018, $158,848)

Our goal is to contribute a language acquisition perspective on current debates on the universality of recursion. Children generally have limited ability to produce structurally elaborated language, such as the production of possessives (Mary’s bike) or prepositional phrase modifiers (The woman with flowers). Recursive phrasal embedding (the baby with the woman with the flowers, Mary’s father’s bike, etc.) is particularly challenging for them. Our research questions are: which structural factors (branching directionality, and type of embedding strategies) play a role in restricting or facilitating children’s acquisition of recursive structures? We have collected data from more than 300 children in five languages (Japanese, German, French, Spanish and English. Two initial findings of this project are i) that recursivity introduces specific complexity beyond modification (to appear in Language), and ii) that although bilingual children have some delay with learning the simple embedding rules, they show minimal difficulties with extending the basic rules to the recursive contexts.

Project Members

PI: A.T. Pérez-Leroux , co-PI: Y. Roberge 

Collaborators: S. Bejar, J. Brunner, A. Castilla–Earls, D. Massam, T. Roeper & P. Schulz

Students: E. Pettibone, G. Klassen, E. Hall, K. Bamba, O. Marasco,  J. Jaffan, N. Docteur, M. Elliot, M. Sanjeevan, A. Cournane, B. Wan, A. Yoh. R. Rusnyak, S. Harrington, A. McCandless, A. Lowes, T.J. Dunn.

Other colleagues: T. Peterson, MC. Cuervo, M. Hayashi, A. Frolova, M.F. Lara Diaz,  M. Hayashi.

© Ana Pérez-Leroux 2017