A School of Psychology alumna has recently published a joint paper in Child Development, a journal published by the Society for Research in Child Development. The paper, titled "Syntactic cues help disambiguate objects referred to with count nouns: Illustration with Malay children" was co-authored by alumna Dr Ming Yean Sia and Dr Julien Mayor. The researchers found that children learning Malay were able to use numeral classifiers, known as penjodoh bilangan in Malay, to differentiate between countable nouns based on the information provided by those classifiers. For example, the classifier batang which is used for long objects was more likely to be matched with an object made up of several blocks stacked together as compared to a round, hairy object. They also found that older children were more skilled at making these inferences; at seven years of age, they were more likely to use a classifier-based meaning rather than a noun-based meaning to match the countable nouns to the classifiers.
Dr Sia received her Bachelor's in Psychology in 2015 and went on to successfully defend her doctoral thesis in 2019, receiving a PhD in Psychology. She obtained both degrees from the University of Nottingham Malaysia. Her doctoral research was conducted under the tutelage of Dr Julien, who was then attached to the university. Currently, Dr Sia is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department for Psychology of Language at the Georg-Elias-Müller-Institute of Psychology at Georg-August-University, Goettingen, while Dr Julien Mayor is a professor in the Department of Psychology in the University of Oslo.
Access the paper here: https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13401
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