Word order as a structural cue and word reordering as an interactional process in early language acquisition

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We present a critical review of the literature on how children exposed to flexible-word-order languages, especially Turkish, acquire word-order variation. We highlight two traditions of psycholinguistic research assuming different theoretical and methodological approaches, namely <i>language-as-product</i> and <i>language-as-action</i> views. While the former studies the underlying mechanisms of using word order as a structural cue in interpreting thematic roles, the latter focuses on how it is used to convey information structure embedded in communication and action. The review reveals that these seemingly independent views complement each other to better account for (i) how children come to interpret argument roles when the word order is not fixed and (ii) how they comprehend/use word-order variation as a pragmatic tool in communication.


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