How Known Constructions Influence the Acquisition of Other Constructions: The German Passive and Future Constructions

Abbot-Smith, Kirsten and Behrens, Heike (2006) How Known Constructions Influence the Acquisition of Other Constructions: The German Passive and Future Constructions. Cognitive Science, 30 (6). pp. 995-1026. ISSN 0364-0213. (Full text available)

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15516709cog0000_61

Abstract

This article suggests evidence for and reasons why prior acquisition may either facilitate or inhibit acquisition of a new construction. It investigates acquisition of the German passive and future constructions which contain a lexical verb with either the auxiliary sein “to be” or werden “to become,” and are related through these to potential supporting constructions. We predicted that a supported construction should be acquired earlier, faster, and unusually rapidly. An inhibited construction should show an extended depressed usage.We analyzed a dense corpus of a German boy between 2;0 and 5;0. He acquired the sein- before the werden-passive. The former was supported by his prior acquisition of the sein copula, whereas the werden-passive itself supported one werden copula construction. He acquired the werden-future extremely slowly due to the hindrance of a semantically identical construction. These results fit with an emergentist approach in which apparently “sudden” acquisition is still due to gradual learning mechanisms.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Kirsten Abbot-Smith
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2010 14:01
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2014 07:43
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/25329 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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