How well can children and adults understand complicated sentences? How do their structure and mode of presentation influence our understanding? To answer these questions, six sentences, two (differing in length) representing each of three different kinds of sentence structure, umekomi (chained active), ukemi (chained passive), and heiretsu (binary active) were prepared and each was given orally to a group of some 20 Ss. Elementary school pupils, students of junior high and high schools, and some university undergraduates served as Ss. Ss were asked to recognize the relationship among the names appearing in the stimulus sentence. The results show that the complicated sentences used in this series of experiments, especially auditory ones, were too difficult for even university students to cope with. Heiretsu was the easiest of the three. Most Ss could not parse properly the more complicated sentences of umekomi and ukemi, and tended rather to regard them as sets of grammatically incomplete simple sentences. This tendency could be traced through all age-levels of Ss, and there were no qualitative differences among the processing strategies Ss had adopted. Visually presented, however, the stimulus sentences were understood fairly well by elementary school pupils. The strategies for processing aurally presented sentences seem to depend heavily on the inflected form of the first “auxiliary verb”, the function of which was grasped somewhat ungrammatically by most of the Ss.
Piaget, J. et al.(1960) suggested that the number of segments (elements) of two lines might influence the judgement of their lengths at a certain level, although its role was equivocal. And then they said that the youngest subjects lacked the concept of number so that their judgements of length were not influenced by the number of segments. The present study was aimed at investigating. their suggestions systematically, including development of number, with a hundred children from three to eight years old. The children were given the six tasks individually. 1) Counting objects. 2) Taking out the given number of an aggregate. 3) Comparison of two number words. 4) Conservation of number. 5) Comparison of length-A (Conservation of length, arranging matches at right angles to one another and in a series of zigzags.) 6) Comparison of length-B (using two straight strips of paper, each having different number of segments.) The findings and suggestions which were gained in this experiment were as follows: 1) The older children (six-seven years old) responded to the conservation task of number and the comparison task of length-A (conservation task of length) more correctly than the younger. On the other hand, the children of these ages responded to the comparison task of length-B less correctly than the younger. These results mean, if the children assure conservation of number, their judgements of length are influenced by the number of segments. And they also mean that the positive influence appears when two lines with the same size of segments are compared and the negative influence appears when two lines with the different size of segments are compared. 2) when these findins are compared with the findings by Gal'perin, P. Ya. et al.(1960) concerning conservation of volume, we can find these number influences on judgement of not only length but continous quantity in general. 3) The author suggests that the negative influence phenomenon arises from the concepts of number which children develop on the base of discontinous quantity and therefore in order to extinguish this phenomenon, children should develop the concepts of number on the base of continous quantity.