ERIC Number: ED338048
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Jul
Object Affectedness and the Acquisition of Novel Verbs.
Gropen, Jess; And Others
A study investigated the validity of a linking rule of object affectedness; the rule states that an argument is expressed as the direct object of a verb if its referent is specified as affected in a specific way in the semantic representation of the verb. Specifically, the study examined whether the principle determines which argument will be encoded as direct object and which as oblique object ("Dan stuffed the hamper with laundry," or "Dan stuffed laundry into the hamper"). Four experiments were conducted with a total of 216 children aged 3.4-9.4 and 72 adults. In each, the subjects were taught novel verbs for actions involving transfer of objects to a surface or container, and were tested on their willingness to encode the figure or ground as the direct object. Results indicate that relatively more figure-object sentences were produced with verbs for which the figure changed location in a particular manner, and more ground-object sentences with verbs in which the ground changes. In addition, it was possible to explain children's absolute preferences, or lack of preferences, for a particular syntax type. It is concluded that a causal relationship holds between verb meaning and verb syntax, as formulated in the linking rule. (MSE)
Descriptors: Language Acquisition, Language Research, Linguistic Theory, Semantics, Syntax, Verbs, Young Children
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A
Note: In: Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, Number Twenty-nine. California, Stanford University, 1990. p62-69.