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ERIC Number: EJ864722
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 32
ISSN: ISSN-1048-9223
The Role of NP Animacy and Expletives in Verb Learning
Becker, Misha
Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, v16 n4 p283-296 2009
I describe the results of an experiment that bears on how children learn the lexical and syntactic properties of abstract verbs ("seem," "try") in order to distinguish the subclasses of raising ("seem") and control verbs ("try"). Previous research suggested that an inanimate subject in certain contexts leads children to suppose that the subject and main verb are not thematically related, and thus that the verb is a raising verb. Here I address two alternative possibilities. One possibility is that children lack the adult-like restriction that subject and verb must match in animacy, which I counter with evidence from the developmental literature. The other possibility, addressed by the experiment, is that children's control verbs are thematically related to their subject but do not require the subject to be animate. I will argue, instead, that the presence of an expletive/inanimate subject coerces a raising analysis of the verb, and concomitant "bleached" semantics of the verb in that context. (Contains 6 footnotes and 2 tables.)
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: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A