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Academic Paper


Title: Motion in first language acquisition: Manner and Path in French and English child language*
Author: Maya Hickmann
Institution: CNRS
Author: Pierre Taranne
Institution: Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis
Author: Philippe Bonnet
Institution: Université Paris V - Descartes
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics
Subject Language: English
French
Abstract: Two experiments compared how French vs. English adults and children (three to seven years) described motion events. Given typological properties (Talmy, ) and previous results (Choi & Bowerman, ; Hickmann, ; Slobin, ), the main prediction was that Manner should be more salient and therefore more frequently combined with Path (MP) in English than in French, particularly with four types of 'target' events, as compared to manner-oriented 'controls': motion / (Experiment I, N=200) and (Experiment II, N=120), and (both experiments). Results showed that MP-responses (a) varied with events and increased with age in both languages, but (b) were more frequent in English at all ages with all events, and (c) were age- and event-specific among French speakers, who also frequently expressed Path or Manner alone. The discussion highlights several factors accounting for responses, with particular attention to the interplay between cognitive factors that drive language acquisition and typological properties that constrain this process from early on.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 36, Issue 4, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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