Forming yes-no involves knowledge of structure as is the case below.
i) Simple sentence pairs
‘The boy can dance – can the boy dance’
‘The girl can cook- can the girl cook’
Defining NP to get a deeper understanding of the word is imperative.NP initials stand for noun phrase, which is either a pronoun or anygroup of words replaceable by a pronoun. For example in the above twosentences two hypothesis that might account for the NP are boy andgirl. Noun phrases are structured into three sections the premodification, head noun and post modification.
Pre modification- The,…. head noun- boy,…. post modification–can,… sing-verb
Every part of the noun phrase can be changed.
When considering sentence pairs we will lay out two hypotheses thatmight account for such pairs with one involving NP and the otherwithout. The phrase the boy can dance involves NP while convertingthe same sentence into a question form of can the boy dance ? weremove the NP. A neutral scientist is not biased like a child andwould prefer either the hypothesis that involves NP or does notinvolve NP. The neutral scientists are more capable of understandingmeanings in sentences than children and can derive simple or complexmeanings in sentences. It is thus easy for them to identifysentences without NP and not be biased.
ii) More complex sentences like the boy who can dance can also cook,form yes- no questions like ‘can the boy who – dance also cook?’As seen the sentence appears incorrect.
If we apply the hypothesis without an NP Yes- no the question thatwill occur will appear like ‘can ( the boy who can dance )- alsocook’
In this case, we are forced to assume that H2 is correct. Childrenunlike neutral scientists are biased and never consider H1. It isimportant that they have adequate knowledge on NP to be able to movethe right element to the front. While experiments have proven thatthey already know the relevant NP, it is important to teach them onthe importance of distinguishing sentences with NP and those without.
iii) A brief example of an experiment with children to investigatetheir knowledge of the structure NP was conducted in a classroom setup one year prior to the normal age they learn how to use of complexyes-no questions. In the experiment the children were shown videoclips of a girl running with a fruit basket in her hand. To capturethe attention of the children, they were told that Candy a friendlyclown is shy and only feels comfortable around children. They weretold to ask him, if the girl who is running is holding a fruitbasket. To prove that the children had knowledge of NP they asked theclown’ is the girl who is running- holding a fruit basket?’Ifthey had no knowledge on NP they would have asked the question ‘ isthe man who – running is holding a flag’ but that is not whatthey asked. To know which is to move, they had to have the relevantknowledge of NP which was (the girl who is running).
The below tree diagram will be useful in helping us get a deeperunderstanding of sentence structure. ‘The man who can play pianocan sing’
Det N V NP
The man can play N V
Piano can sing