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.
- first language acquisition,
- argument structure
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ellenhcourtney/7/