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Open Access Publications from the University of California

"The Parrot next to the Hamster (and) next to the Bunny" Sheds Light on Recursion in Child Romanian


The current paper brings experimental evidence that Romanian 4-and 5-year-olds are able to understand recursive prepositional modifiers such as "papagalul de lȃngǎ hamsterul de lȃngǎ iepuraş", ‘the parrot next to the hamster next to the bunny’. 23 children engaged in a picture matching task (PMT) where they heard sentences containing either recursive structures or coordinative structures, and they had to choose between a picture corresponding to a recursive interpretation and a picture corresponding to a coordinative interpretation. Interestingly, children provided recursive interpretations to recursive structures to a quite high degree, though their behavior was not fully adult-like. We argue that this can be accounted for through children’s sensitivity to specific recursion cues that are present in Romanian, as well as to the contrast between recursion and coordination, which is activated through the experimental set-up.

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