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ERIC Number: EJ850231
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 66
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0026-7902
Construction Learning as a Function of Frequency, Frequency Distribution, and Function
Ellis, Nick C.; Ferreira-Junior, Fernando
Modern Language Journal, v93 n3 p370-385 Fall 2009
This article considers effects of construction frequency, form, function, and prototypicality on second language acquisition (SLA). It investigates these relationships by focusing on naturalistic SLA in the European Science Foundation corpus (Perdue, 1993) of the English verb-argument constructions (VACs): verb locative (VL), verb object locative (VOL), and ditransitive (VOO). Goldberg (2006) argued that Zipfian type/token frequency distributions ( Zipf, 1935) in natural language constructions might optimize learning by providing one very high-frequency exemplar that is also prototypical in meaning. This article tests and confirms this proposal for naturalistic English as a second language. We show that VAC type/token distribution in the input is Zipfian and that learners first use the most frequent, prototypical, and generic exemplar (e.g., "put" in the VOL VAC, "give" in the VOO ditransitive, etc.). Learning is driven by the frequency and frequency distribution of exemplars within constructions and by the match of their meaning to the construction prototype.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A