Children mix direct and indirect speech: evidence from pronoun comprehension

Franziska Köder, Emar Maier

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

8 Citaten (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


This study investigates children's acquisition of the distinction between direct speech (Elephant said, “I get the football”) and indirect speech (Elephant said that he gets the football), by measuring children's interpretation of first, second, and third person pronouns. Based on evidence from various linguistic sources, we hypothesize that the direct–indirect distinction is acquired relatively late. We also predict more mistakes for third person pronouns compared to first and second person pronouns. We tested 136 Dutch-speaking children between four and twelve in a referent selection task and found that children interpret pronouns in direct speech predominantly as in indirect speech, supporting our hypothesis about a late acquisition of the direct–indirect distinction. In addition, we found differences between I, you, and he that deviate from a simple first and second vs. third person split. We discuss our results in the light of cross-linguistic findings of direct–indirect mixing.
Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)843-866
Aantal pagina's24
TijdschriftJournal of Child Language
Nummer van het tijdschrift4
Vroegere onlinedatum2015
StatusPublished - 2016

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