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“Why? Because I’m talking to you!” Parental input and cognitive complexity as determinants of children’s connective acquisition

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We report a series of longitudinal studies on children’s acquisition of Dutch,English and German causal connectives supporting a model in which children’scognitive development, parental input and the cognitive complexity of differenttypes of causality are brought into a systematic relationship. The data reveal thatless complex connectives are acquired first, and that parental connective inputhas both short- and long-term effects, although children are not simply parrotingtheir parents. Audience design in connective input is not at stake: parents’independent connective use is stable over time, but their elicited connective useincreases as children grow older and start asking why-questions themselves.Still, parental why-questions are scaffolds of children’s connective use and oftheir ability to ask why-questions themselves.

  • Affiliations: 1: Utrecht University

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