Learning the meaning of verbs: insights from Quechua
The definitive version of this article was published in First Language (30, 1), February, 2010. DOI: 10.1177/0142723709350527
Largely based on observations of English-speaking children, investigators have proposed constraints on verb learning, e.g., syntactic bootstrapping, the principle of uniqueness, and innate semantic-conceptual categories. Children produce overgeneralization errors as they acquire verb meaning, and data from some languages reveal an intriguing asymmetry: children use intransitive verbs transitively, while seldom using causative-transitive verbs intransitively. This study presents experimental evidence corroborating the author's earlier finding that Quechua-speaking children’s overgeneralization errors observe the same asymmetry. The transitive variants of change-of-state verbs were elicited from 30 Peruvian children, aged 2;8-4;11. The ensuing discussion considers how Quechua-speaking children recover from this pattern of overgeneralization in light of constraints that have been proposed for children acquiring English, which is typologically very different from Quechua.
Ellen H. Courtney. "Learning the meaning of verbs: insights from Quechua" First Language 30.1 (2010): 56-78.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ellenhcourtney/7