Object relative clauses in Dutch-speaking children with high-functioning Autism (HFA)

Jeannette Schaeffer, Bart Siekman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Previous studies show that Direct Object Scrambling (DOS) is impaired in Dutch-speaking children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA). However, as DOS can be considered a syntax-pragmatics interface phenomenon, it is unclear whether DOS errors are due to impaired syntax or impaired pragmatics. In order to shed light on this question, the current study investigates Object Relative Clauses (ORC), assumed to involve syntactic object placement (as in DOS), but not pragmatics, in children with HFA. We examine the elicited production, comprehension and judgment of ORCs in 25 Dutch-speaking children with HFA (age 6-14) and 25 TD matches with comparable non-verbal reasoning scores. Results reveal no differences between groups, but show that, similar to TD children (and adults), children with HFA use passives and animacy to disambiguate ORCs. The TD-HFA similarity indicates that the syntactic part of DOS is unimpaired in children with HFA and suggests problems with the pragmatic part.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-151
Number of pages17
JournalLinguistics in the Netherlands
Volume33
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Direct object scrambling
  • High-functioning autism
  • Object relative clauses
  • Syntax-pragmatics interface

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