ERIC Number: ED308963
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1989-Apr
Syntactic Bootstrapping: A Partial Solution to the Induction Problem of Verb Learning.
This experiment was designed to investigate the possibility that young children use syntax to constrain and focus verb meanings in their interpretations of novel scenes and novel verbs. Subjects were 24 children, 12 males and 12 females, of 23 to 27 months, all raised in English-speaking homes. Their mean productive vocabulary was 240 words. A total of 17 had produced utterances of three words or longer; 7 were in the two-word stage of language development. Each child viewed simultaneously presented video events. Between the video monitors, an auditory speaker played a message that matched only one of the video events, or scenes. It was expected that if the utterance was correctly understood, the child would look preferentially at the scene that was consistent with the utterance. If the utterance was not understood, it was expected that the child would look randomly at either scene. For each of the subjects, a pattern of teaching and testing was repeated for four nonsense verbs. Half of the children heard each verb presented in the transitive audio, and the others heard each verb presented in the intransitive audio. Findings provide strong support for the syntactic bootstrapping hypothesis proposed by Landau and Gleitman (1985). (RH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: American Association of Univ. Women Educational Foundation, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: N/A