The development of attention to singular vs. plural sets in preschool children: Insights from a cross-linguistic comparison between English and Japanese

Sawa Senzaki, Jennifer Lanter, Yuki Shimizu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Languages differ in the ways speakers express the number of objects in a set. The English language, but not Japanese, requires grammatical differentiation of nouns for singular and plural forms (e.g., cat versus cats). The present study investigated whether this grammatical difference constrains the development of preschool children's attention to sets of ‘one’ versus ‘more than one’ using the card matching task in the U.S. and Japan. The task required the use of singular-plural information to match. Overall, 3- to 5-year-old children completed the task better than chance; however, language-specific patterns of development emerged. While English-speaking children did not show age-related differences in their attention to singular vs. plural sets, Japanese-speaking 4- and 5-year-olds performed significantly better than 3-year-olds. The results extend previous findings and provide insights for a multifaceted relation among age-related and linguistic specific factors on developmental pathways of children's attention to singular and plural sets of objects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100810
JournalCognitive Development
Volume52
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Oct 1
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cross-linguistic
  • English
  • Japanese
  • Plural
  • Singular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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