Proceedings of the LSA
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This study explores children’s encoding of novel verbs referring to motion events, and finds influence of both language-specific and universal constraints on meaning. Motion verbs fall into two categories—manner verbs encode how a movement happens (run, swim), and path verbs encode the starting and ending point of a motion (enter, fall). Some languages express path more frequently in the verb (Spanish, Hebrew), and others manner more frequently (English, German). Our study expands on this previous work demonstrating sensitivity to these language-specific distributions, as well as expanding to test environmental factors representing a predictable universal distribution. We find that children are sensitive to both the language-specific factors as well as the universal factors in motion verb acquisition.
Smyder, Rebecca and Harrigan, Kaitlyn, The Influence of Language-Specific and Universal Factors on Acquisition of Motion Verbs (2021). Proceedings of the LSA, 6(1).