NotesFAQContact Us
Collection
Advanced
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ798857
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Aug
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0285
Bootstrapping Word Order in Prelexical Infants: A Japanese-Italian Cross-Linguistic Study
Gervain, Judit; Nespor, Marina; Mazuka, Reiko; Horie, Ryota; Mehler, Jacques
Cognitive Psychology, v57 n1 p56-74 Aug 2008
Learning word order is one of the earliest feats infants accomplish during language acquisition [Brown, R. (1973). "A first language: The early stages", Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.]. Two theories have been proposed to account for this fact. Constructivist/lexicalist theories [Tomasello, M. (2000). Do young children have adult syntactic competence? "Cognition, 74(3)", 209-253.] argue that word order is learned separately for each lexical item or construction. Generativist theories [Chomsky, N. (1995). "The Minimalist Program." Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.], on the other hand, claim that word order is an abstract and general property, determined from the input independently of individual words. Here, we show that eight-month-old Japanese and Italian infants have opposite order preferences in an artificial grammar experiment, mirroring the opposite word orders of their respective native languages. This suggests that infants possess some representation of word order prelexically, arguing for the generativist view. We propose a frequency-based bootstrapping mechanism to account for our results, arguing that infants might build this representation by tracking the order of functors and content words, identified through their different frequency distributions. We investigate frequency and word order patterns in infant-directed Japanese and Italian corpora to support this claim. (Contains 4 figures and 1 table.)
Elsevier. 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, FL 32887-4800. Tel: 877-839-7126; Tel: 407-345-4020; Fax: 407-363-1354; e-mail: usjcs@elsevier.com; Web site: http://www.elsevier.com
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A