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ERIC Number: EJ906918
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 26
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 50
ISSN: ISSN-0169-0965
Inferring Meaning from Syntactic Structures in Acquisition: The Case of Transitivity and Telicity
Wagner, Laura
Language and Cognitive Processes, v25 n10 p1354-1379 2010
This paper investigated children's ability to use syntactic structures to infer semantic information. The particular syntax-semantics link examined was the one between transitivity (transitive/intransitive structures) and telicity (telic/atelic perspectives; that is, boundedness). Although transitivity is an important syntactic reflex of telicity, it is neither necessary nor sufficient for predicting a telicity value; it is therefore a weak cue for telicity semantics. Nevertheless, children do make use of it. Experiment 1 used a match-to-sample task and found that 3-year-old children could use transitivity information to guide their interpretations of telicity. Experiment 2 used a preferential looking task with 2-year-old children and similarly found that these children could successfully use transitivity as a cue to telicity. Children in both experiments succeeded with both causal and directed-motion events, suggesting that telicity judgements are not tied to any one event type. These results are discussed in the context of other semantic elements that children can link to transitivity, and taken together, are argued to support a largely inferential link between transitivity and telicity. (Contains 5 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A