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Observations With Self-Embedded Sentences Using Written Aids NICHD

Craun, Marlys J.; Freedle, Roy O.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
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Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Grammar, Linguistic Theory, Reading Skills, Sentence Structure, Syntax


Self-embedded sentences of any degree beyond one are permitted by the syntactic rules of English, yet previous studies report that subjects typically reject these sentences as being ungrammatical and, in addition, often cannot recover the meaning of these sentences. The present paper investigated the possibility of introducing specially structured self-embedded sentences as "aids" to the discovery of the structure of more complex self-embedded sentences. The group of subjects who received these aids performed significantly better in discovering the subject-verb and subject-object assignments in the complex sentences (many achieved perfect scores) in contrast to subjects who did not initially receive these aids (these latter subjects obtained close to the minimum possible scores).

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