Cognitive bias overrides syntactic bootstrapping in novel verb learning

Annelot Mills, Angeliek van Hout


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    Only few acquisition studies so far have looked at change-of-state events, aiming to identify lexicalization biases in young learners and determining at what age these become language-specific (Bunger et al., 2016; Papafragou et al., 2002). The present study focuses on change-of-state events and investigates if syntactic structure, specifically, transitivity, plays a role in determining which meaning aspect of such events—manner or result—is encoded in novel verbs. The study is framed in syntactic bootstrapping theory, the idea that meaning can be inferred from syntactic structure (Brown, 1957; Gleitman, 1990). Replicating Wagner’s (2010) novel-verb paradigm we ask: does transitivity—the use of a verb in a transitive or intransitive verb frame—affect the lexical encoding of a change-of state event, triggering a preference for a manner or result meaning? We investigate if there are such encoding biases associated with transitivity in Dutch 3-year-olds and English 7-year-olds. Presenting novel verbs used in either a transitive or an intransitive verb frame with novel events that showed both a distinctive manner of action and a distinctive result, we wanted to see if participants had any biases in interpreting the verbs as manner or result verbs.
    Originele taal-2English
    TitelBUCLD 43: Proceedings of the 43rd annual Boston University Conference on Language Development
    RedacteurenMegan M. Brown, Brady Dailey
    Plaats van productieSomerville
    UitgeverijCascadilla Press
    Aantal pagina's11
    ISBN van geprinte versie978-1-57473-096-8
    StatusPublished - 2019

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