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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.


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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