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Academic Paper


Title: Early verb learning in 20-month-old Japanese-speaking children
Author: Yuriko Oshima-Takane
Institution: McGill University
Author: Junko Ariyama
Institution: McGill University
Author: Tessei Kobayashi
Institution: Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation
Author: Marina Katerelos
Institution: Concordia University
Author: Diane Poulin-Dubois
Institution: Concordia University
Linguistic Field: Cognitive Science; Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: Japanese
Abstract: The present study investigated whether children's representations of morphosyntactic information are abstract enough to guide early verb learning. Using an infant-controlled habituation paradigm with a switch design, Japanese-speaking children aged 1 ; 8 were habituated to two different events in which an object was engaging in an action. Each event was paired with a novel word embedded in a single intransitive verb sentence frame. The results indicated that only 40% of the children were able to map a novel verb onto the action when the mapping task was complex. However, by simplifying the mapping task, 88% of the children succeeded in verb–action mapping. There were no differences in perceptual salience between the agent and action switches in the task. These results provide strong evidence that Japanese-speaking children aged 1 ; 8 are able to use an intransitive verb sentence frame to guide early verb learning unless the mapping task consumes too much of their cognitive resources.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 38, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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