Graded representations in the acquisition of English and German transitive constructions

Abbot-Smith, Kirsten and Lieven, Elena and Tomasello, Michael (2008) Graded representations in the acquisition of English and German transitive constructions. Cognitive Development, 23 (1). pp. 48-66. ISSN 0885-2014. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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English and German children aged 2 years 4 months and 4 years heard both novel and familiar verbs in sentences whose form was grammatical, but which mismatched the event they were watching (e.g., 'The frog is pushing the lion', when the lion was actually the 'agent' or 'doer' of the pushing). These verbs were then elicited in new sentences. All children mostly corrected the familiar verb (i.e., they used the agent as the grammatical subject), but there were cross-linguistic differences among the two-year-olds concerning the novel verb. When English 2-year-olds used the novel verb they mostly corrected. However, their most frequent response was to avoid using the novel verb altogether. German 2-year-olds corrected the novel verb significantly more often than their English counterparts, demonstrating more robust verb-general representations of agent- and patient-marking. These findings provide support for a 'graded representations' view of development, which proposes that grammatical representations may be simultaneously abstract but 'weak'. (C) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Additional information: ISI Document Delivery No.: 286BO Times Cited: 1 Cited Reference Count: 35 Abbot-Smith, Kirsten Lieven, Elena Tomasello, Michael Elsevier science inc New york
Uncontrolled keywords: grammatical development transitive German English word-order sentence-interpretation children language knowledge rules form
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Kirsten Abbot-Smith
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2010 16:05
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2014 10:25
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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