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ERIC Number: EJ1071733
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 53
ISSN: ISSN-1547-5441
Learning Verb Syntax via Listening: New Evidence from 22-Month-Olds
Messenger, Katherine; Yuan, Sylvia; Fisher, Cynthia
Language Learning and Development, v11 n4 p356-368 2015
Children recruit verb syntax to guide verb interpretation. We asked whether 22-month-olds spontaneously encode information about a particular novel verb's syntactic properties through listening to sentences, retain this information in long-term memory over a filled delay, and retrieve it to guide interpretation upon hearing the same novel verb again. Children watched dialogues in which interlocutors discussed unseen events using a novel verb in transitive (e.g., "Anna blicked the baby") or intransitive sentences ("Anna blicked"). Children later heard the verb in isolation ("Find blicking!") while viewing a two-participant causal action and a one-participant action event. Children who had heard transitive dialogues looked longer at the two-participant event than did those who heard intransitive dialogues. This effect disappeared if children heard a different novel verb at test ("Find kradding!"). These findings implicate a role for distributional learning in early verb learning: syntactic-combinatorial information about otherwise unknown words may pervade the toddler's lexicon, guiding later word interpretation.
Psychology Press. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (NIH); National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory
IES Grant or Contract Numbers: HD054448|BCS-0620257