ERIC Number: ED293655
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Oct
Reference Count: N/A
From Linguistic Form to Meaning: Evidence for Syntactic Bootstrapping by Two-Year-Olds.
Naigles, Letitia; And Others
Two studies investigated whether young children acquiring verbs at an exceptional rate can use the syntactic structure of familiar and unfamiliar verbs to make conjectures about some aspect of the meanings of those verbs. The preferential looking paradigm (Golinkoff and Hirsh-Pasek, 1981) was used to set up a naturalistic pairing of scene and sentence for the children. Two different scenes were provided on two video screens. Both scenes involved the same physical action, for example "squatting." In one case, the action was presented in a causative manner; in the other, in a noncausative manner. While the videos were playing, the child heard either a transitive or a one-argument intransitive sentence. It was reasoned that if the transitive frame directed subjects' attention to the causative action, it could then be concluded that syntax functions to orient children to certain events in the world and not to others. Subjects in study 1 were 32 children between 27 and 30 months of age from English-speaking homes. Results suggested that children under the age of 2.5 years are able to make predictions about meaning with the use of syntactic information when actions are familiar and novel. Study 2, involving 32 children between 22 and 26 months of age, revealed that some children had begun to link some syntactic forms and semantic meanings. Results are discussed. (RH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (12th, Boston, MA, October 23-25, 1987).