Children’s use of demonstrative words: spatial deictics beyond infancy

Pedro Guijarro-Fuentes, Harmen B. Gudde, Patricia Gonzalez-Pena, Kenny R. Coventry

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Demonstrative words are one of the most important ways of establishing reference in conversation. This work describes Spanish-speaking children’s demonstrative production between ages 2 to 10 using data from the CHILDES corpora. Results indicate that children feature all demonstratives in their lexicon – however, the distal term is scarce throughout development. Moreover, patterns of demonstrative use are not adult-like at age 10. We compare adult and child data to conclude that children’s development of demonstrative production is largely protracted. Adult use of the distal demonstrative is higher than in young children, although both older children and adults use the medial term ese more than any other demonstratives. In contrast, younger children use proximals relatively more frequently than older children and adults. Suggestions for future research and theoretical implications for the Spanish demonstrative system are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Child Language
Early online date4 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Nov 2022

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