Children's use of argument structure, meta-knowledge of the lexicon, and extra-linguistic contextual cues in inferring meanings of novel verbs

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DOI:

https://doi.org/10.21248/hpsg.2008.23

Abstract

Verbs are the centerpiece of the sentence, and understanding of verb meanings is essential for language acquisition. Yet verb learning is said to be more challenging than noun learning for young children for several reasons. First, while nouns tend to denote concrete objects, which are perceptually stable over time, verbs tend to refer to action events, which are temporally ephemeral, and the beginning and the end of the action referred to by the verb are not clearly specified. Second, a verb takes nouns as arguments, and the meaning of a verb is determined as the relation between the arguments. To infer the meaning of a verb, children need to attend to the relation between the objects in the event rather than the objects themselves. In so doing, children make use of a variety of cues such as argument structure, meta-knowledge of the lexicon, and extra-linguistic contextual cues. In this paper, I present two lines of my recent research concerning young children's novel verb learning. Specifically, I first report a cross-linguistic study (Imai et al., 2008) examining how Japanese-, English-, and Chinese-speaking children utilize structural and non-structural, extra-linguistic cues when inferring novel verb meanings. Second, I present another study examining how young children utilize sound-meaning correlates (sound symbolism) in their inference of novel verb meanings. In the end, I evaluate the relative importance of structural cues among different cues children use in verb learning.

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Published

2008-10-16

How to Cite

Imai, Mutsumi. 2008. Children’s use of argument structure, meta-knowledge of the lexicon, and extra-linguistic contextual cues in inferring meanings of novel verbs. Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar 399–416. (doi:10.21248/hpsg.2008.23) (https://proceedings.hpsg.xyz/article/view/708) (Accessed June 19, 2024.)