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The Influence of Frequency and Semantic Similarity on How Children Learn Grammar

Abbot-Smith, Kirsten, Tomasello, Michael (2010) The Influence of Frequency and Semantic Similarity on How Children Learn Grammar. First Language, 30 (1). pp. 79-101. ISSN 0142-7237. (doi:10.1177/0142723709350525) (KAR id:25339)

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Lexically based learning and semantic analogy may both play a role in the learning of

grammar. To investigate this, 5-year-old German children were trained on a miniature

language (nominally English) involving two grammatical constructions, each of which was

associated with a different semantic verb class. Training was followed by elicited production

and grammaticality judgement tests with ‘trained verbs’ and a ‘generalization’ test, involving

untrained verbs. In the ‘trained verbs’ judgement test the children were above chance at

associating particular verbs with the constructions in which they had heard them. They

did this significantly more often with verbs which they had heard especially frequently in

particular constructions, indicating lexically based learning. There was also an interaction

between frequency and semantic class (or the particular verbs). In the generalization

judgement test the children were at chance overall. In the elicited production generalization

test 75% of the children used the same construction for all items.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/0142723709350525
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Kirsten Abbot-Smith
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2010 09:50 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:03 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Abbot-Smith, Kirsten:
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