English-speaking children's comprehension of relative clauses: Evidence for general-cognitive and language-specific constraints on development Academic Article uri icon


  • Children must possess some ability to process input in a meaningful manner to acquire language. The present study reports on data from an experiment investigating 3- to 5-year-old English-speaking children's understanding of restrictive relative clauses manipulated for embeddedness and focus. The results of the study showed that English-speaking children acquire right-branching before center-embedded structures. Comparisons made with data from Portuguese-speaking children suggest general-cognitive and language-specific constraints on development, and with respect to English, a "clause expansion" approach to processing in development.

publication date

  • 2002