NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1109159
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Sep
Pages: 28
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0305-0009
Learning Transitive Verbs from Single-Word Verbs in the Input by Young Children Acquiring English
Ninio, Anat
Journal of Child Language, v43 n5 p1103-1130 Sep 2016
The environmental context of verbs addressed by adults to young children is claimed to be uninformative regarding the verbs' meaning, yielding the Syntactic Bootstrapping Hypothesis that, for verb learning, full sentences are needed to demonstrate the semantic arguments of verbs. However, reanalysis of Gleitman's (1990) original data regarding input to a blind child revealed the context of single-word parental verbs to be more transparent than that of sentences. We tested the hypothesis that English-speaking children learn their early verbs from parents' single-word utterances. Distribution of single-word transitive verbs produced by a large sample of young children was strongly predicted by the relative token frequency of verbs in parental single-word utterances, but multiword sentences had no predictive value. Analysis of the interactive context showed that objects of verbs are retrievable by pragmatic inference, as is the meaning of the verbs. Single-word input appears optimal for learning an initial vocabulary of verbs.
Cambridge University Press. 100 Brook Hill Drive, West Nyack, NY 10994-2133. Tel: 800-872-7423; Tel: 845-353-7500; Fax: 845-353-4141; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A