ERIC Number: EJ864019
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Dec
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 42
Linking Rule Acquisition in Novel Phrasal Constructions
Boyd, Jeremy K.; Gottschalk, Erin A.; Goldberg, Adele E.
Language Learning, v59 ns1 p64-89 Dec 2009
All natural languages rely on sentence-level form-meaning associations (i.e., linking rules) to encode propositional content about who did what to whom. Although these associations are recognized as foundational in many different theoretical frameworks (Goldberg, 1995, 2006; Lidz, Gleitman, & Gleitman, 2003; Pinker, 1984, 1989) and are--at least in principle--learnable (Allen, 1997; Morris, Cottrell, & Elman, 2000), very little empirical work has been done to establish that human participants are able to acquire them from the input. In the present work, we provided adult participants with 3 min worth of exposure to a novel syntactic construction and then tested to see what was learned. Experiment 1 established that participants are able to accurately deploy newly acquired linking rules in a forced-choice comprehension task, and that constructional knowledge largely persists over a 1-week period. In Experiment 2, participants were exposed to the linking rules immanent in one of two novel constructions and were asked to describe novel events using their exposure construction. The data indicate that participants were successful in using their exposure construction's linking rules in production, and that performance was equally good regardless of the specifics of the target linking pattern. These results indicate that linking rules can be learned relatively easily by adults, which, in turn, suggests that children may also be capable of learning them directly from the input.
Descriptors: Phrase Structure, Task Analysis, Linguistic Input, Language Acquisition, Syntax, Language Usage, Comprehension, Adults, Children
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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