Three-picture matching game with naming task (e.g. Romøren and Chen 2015b)

The investigations within and associated with the Get the Focus Right project (publications since 2014) have used a revised version of the game. This description is adapted from Romoren and Chen (2015b), where the game was used with Dutch speaking 4 year olds and adults. The experiment consists of two phases, firstly a picture-naming task to familiarise the participants with the words that they were going to be using during the picture-matching game.


The picture-naming task was constructed to familiarize the participants with the nouns appearing in the picture-matching game, in order for them to use the intended words when playing the game. In the picture-naming task, the participants were instructed to name figures and objects illustrated in 17 pictures. The spoken context was scripted for each naming trial as Ôthis is aÉ', after which the participants could provide a response. In the case of incorrect naming (e.g., calling the cat a dog), the experimenter explained what the relevant figure/object should be called in this particular game, directing the participants' attention to relevant details of the depicted figure or object (e.g., ÔIt is not a dog; it's a cat. Do you see the whiskers?'). The target verbs were not a part of the picture-naming game, but were presented, illustrated and explained in the introduction to the game (e.g., ÔLook, this is 'finding', and when someone finds something they always look happy.')


In the picture-matching game, the participant's task was to help the experimenter find correct combinations of picture pairs by answering the experimenter's questions about her pictures. Scripted contexts were created for all experimental trials to make the focal elements relationally new and the non-focal elements relationally given, following the terminology of Gundel and Fretheim (2004). In terms of referential newness–givenness, the baseline was that all target referents were made accessible (Lambrecht, 1994), both through the picture naming phase of the experiment, and through repeated mention during the course of game.



Set 1 

Set 2

Set 3


EXPERIMENTER:       Kijk, de poes! Het lijkt net alsof de poes iets kookt. Ik doe een gok: de hond kookt de wortel.


ÔLook, the cat! It looks like the cat is cooking something. I'll make a guess: the dog is cooking the carrot.'


PARTICIPANT :          De poes kookt [de laars]focus.


ÔThe cat is cooking the carrot'



The materials consisted of three separate sets of pictures, two for the experimenter and one for the participant (see Figure 1). The experimenter's first set (set 1) was piled face down in front of her. These pictures always lacked one constituent, for example, the subject, the verb, the object or the adverbial. The experimenter's second set (set 2) consisted of pictures representing what was missing in set 1, but these were scrambled face up in a box located between the participant and the experimenter. The participant's set (set 3) consisted of pictures displaying complete actions, and these were piled face down in front of him/her. Sets 1 and 3 were always pre-ordered before each session, so that corresponding pictures always appeared in the same trial.


Trial procedure

1)   The experimenter first picked up a picture from set 1, drawing the participant's attention to it, uttering the context sentences as illustrated in Table 2.

2)   The experimenter posed the target question.

3)   After the target question was asked, the participant could look at his/her complete picture in order to answer the question.

4)   Once the answer was provided, the experimenter could look for the Ômissing piece' of her picture in the box (set 2), unite the two pictures and move on to the next trial.


In the instructions to the game, two rules were introduced. One was that the participants should always answer in a full sentence; the other was that they should not show their own picture to the experimenter. The experimenter was instructed to use a consistent intonation pattern in the context and target questions, consisting in a falling accent (H*L) on Ôlook' as well as on the nouns and verbs, when these were introduced for the first time. In the questions, the experimenter used the same falling accent (H*L) on the wh-word, and no accent on the following words. Depending on the language, the game typically consisted of 24 test trials and 8 practice trials. In some languages, SVO and SVOA sentences were tested, in other languages only SVO. In the languages with both, trials pertaining to each part were kept together.

In languages with lexical, more trials were required to ensure even distribution of items


Each trial tests one of four sentence conditions, namely narrow focus on the initial constituent (NF-i), narrow focus on the medial constituent (NF-m), narrow focus on the final constituent (NF-f) and contrastive focus on the medial constituent (CF-m) (see Tables 3 and 4). The SVO and SVOA parts were each preceded by four practice trials, one from each sentence condition. Within the experimental trials, six medial and six final target constituents were carefully distributed over the four conditions so that each medial and final target occurred once in every condition.




Chen, A. and Destruel, E. (2010). Intonational encoding of focus in Toulousian French. In Proceedings of the 5th Conference on Speech Prosody.


Chen, A. (2011). Tuning information structure: intonational realisation of topic and focus in child Dutch. Journal of Child Language, 38, 1055-1083.


Sauermann, A., Höhle, B., Chen, A., and Järvikivi, J. (2011). Intonational marking of focus in different word orders in German children. In M. B. Washburn, K. McKinney-Bock, E. Varis, & A. Sawyer (eds.), Proceedings of the 28th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (pp. 313-322). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.


DePape, A. R., Chen, A., Hall, G. B. C., and Trainor, L. J. (2012). Use of prosody and information structure in high functioning adults with Autism in relation to language ability. Frontiers in Psychology. Volume 3. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00072


Chen, A. (2014). Production-comprehension (A)Symmetry: individual differences in the acquisition of prosody focus-marking. In Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Speech Prosody.


Liu, Z., Chen, A. and van de Velde, H. (2014). Prosodic focus marking in Bai. In Proceedings of the 7th International conference on Speech Prosody.


Romøren, A. S. H. and Chen, A. (2014). Accentuation, pitch and pausing as cues to focus in child Dutch. In Proceedings of the 38th Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD). Cascadilla Press.


Yang. A. and Chen, A. (2014a). Prosodic focus marking in child and adult Mandarin Chinese. In Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages.


Yang, Y. and Chen, A. (2014b). Prosodic focus marking in Chinese four- and eight-year-olds. In Proceedings of 7th International Conference on Speech Prosody.


Rømoren, A. S. H. and Chen, A. (2015a). The acquisition of prosodic focus marking in Central Swedish: Sorting out lexical and post-lexical tones. In Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Glasgow, UK: University of Glasgow.



Romøren, A. S. H. and Chen, A. (2015b). Quiet is the new loud: Pausing and focus in child and adult Dutch. Language and Speech, 58 (1): 8-23. DOI: 10.1177/0023830914563589


Lentz, T. O. and Chen, A. (2015). Unbalanced adult production and perception in prosody. In Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Glasgow, UK: University of Glasgow.


Yang, A., Cho, T., Kim, S. and Chen, A.(2015). Phonetic focus-marking in Korean-speaking 7- to 8-year-olds and adults. In Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Glasgow, UK: University of Glasgow.


Chen, A., van den Bergh, H., and ten Bosch, L. (under revision). Production and comprehension link in prosodic development: Developmental trajectory and individual differences. Journal of Memory and Language.


Liu, Z., Chen, A., and van de Velde, H. (In press a). Prosodic Focus Marking in Minority L1 Bai-Children Learning Mandarin Chinese as L2. To appear in In Proceedings of the 40th Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD). Cascadilla Press.


Liu, Z., Chen, A., and van de Velde, H. (In press b). Prosodic Focus Marking in Bai-Mandarin Sequential Bilinguals' Mandarin. To appear in proceedings of Speech Prosody 2016.


The picture matching game is a set of two tasks designed for use with children for eliciting productions of sentences with controlled prosodic marking of focus. It was developed and extensively used in the Get the Focus Right NWO-VIDI project, coordinated by Aoju Chen.


This website contains the materials used to administer the game to Dutch, Swedish, Korean and Chinese speaking children. The materials are organised according to the structure of the game.