Title

Sentence Context and Meaning Frequency Effects in Children's Processing of Ambiguous Words

Abstract

Nine‐ and twelve‐year‐old children named target words which were preceded by sentences ending in words having more than one meaning. Sentences biased the ambiguous word toward its dominant (more frequent) or subordinate (less frequent) meaning. Targets were related to the same meaning as that biased by the sentence, the other meaning, or were unrelated. Targets were presented 0, 300, or 700 ms following the sentence. For both ages, dominant sentences facilitated responses only to the contextually appropriate target. However, subordinate sentences led to facilitation of the appropriate meaning only for the younger group. Older children showed greater facilitation for the inappropriate (but more common) meaning. These results indicate that younger children are more sensitive to the sentence context in which an ambiguous word appears, while the processing of the older children is determined more by the relative frequencies of the words meanings.

Department(s)

Psychological Science

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0141-0423; 1467-9817

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Citation

File Type

text

Language(s)

English

Rights

© 1994 Wiley, All rights reserved.

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