Eating apples and houseplants: typicality constraints on thematic roles in early verb learning

Meints, Kerstin and Plunkett, Kim and Harris, Paul (2008) Eating apples and houseplants: typicality constraints on thematic roles in early verb learning. Language and Cognitive Processes, 23 (3). pp. 434-463. ISSN 1464-0732

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Official URL: Http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01690960701726232

Abstract

Are thematic roles linked to verbs in young children as in adults or will children accept any participant in a given role with any verb? To assess early verb comprehension we used typicality ratings with adults, parental questionnaires, and Intermodal Preferential Looking with children. We predicted that children would look at named targets, would initially associate typical action-patient combinations with verbs, and accept atypical pairings as they get older. Results show that 15-month-olds do not understand verbs yet, 18-month-olds look at typical and atypical targets after naming, 24-month-olds demonstrate preferences for typical items only and 3-year-olds (and adults) accept atypical instances. Thus, children seem to start mapping verbs broadly to action-patient combinations, even implausible ones. Around 24 months they show restricted naming and accept only typical scenes congruent with their experience. By 3 years they have gained independence from this typicality-guided strategy and show adult-like behaviour in accepting even unusual pairings as fitting the verb

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Are thematic roles linked to verbs in young children as in adults or will children accept any participant in a given role with any verb? To assess early verb comprehension we used typicality ratings with adults, parental questionnaires, and Intermodal Preferential Looking with children. We predicted that children would look at named targets, would initially associate typical action-patient combinations with verbs, and accept atypical pairings as they get older. Results show that 15-month-olds do not understand verbs yet, 18-month-olds look at typical and atypical targets after naming, 24-month-olds demonstrate preferences for typical items only and 3-year-olds (and adults) accept atypical instances. Thus, children seem to start mapping verbs broadly to action-patient combinations, even implausible ones. Around 24 months they show restricted naming and accept only typical scenes congruent with their experience. By 3 years they have gained independence from this typicality-guided strategy and show adult-like behaviour in accepting even unusual pairings as fitting the verb
Keywords:Speech perception and reproduction, Speech and Language Disorders, Neuropsychology, Psychology of language, Language and Linguistics, Cognitive Psychology
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C850 Cognitive Psychology
B Subjects allied to Medicine > B620 Speech Science
C Biological Sciences > C820 Developmental Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:1318
Deposited By: Bev Jones
Deposited On:09 Oct 2007
Last Modified:18 Jul 2011 16:18

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