A developmental shift from similar to language-specific strategies in verb acquisition: A comparison of English, Spanish, and Japanese

Mandy J. Maguire, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Mutsumi Imai, Etsuko Haryu, Sandra Vanegas, Hiroyuki Okada, Rachel Pulverman, Brenda Sanchez-Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The world's languages draw on a common set of event components for their verb systems. Yet, these components are differentially distributed across languages. At what age do children begin to use language-specific patterns to narrow possible verb meanings? English-, Japanese-, and Spanish-speaking adults, toddlers, and preschoolers were shown videos of an animated star performing a novel manner along a novel path paired with a language-appropriate nonsense verb. They were then asked to extend that verb to either the same manner or the same path as in training. Across languages, toddlers (2- and 2.5-year-olds) revealed a significant preference for interpreting the verb as a path verb. In preschool (3- and 5-year-olds) and adulthood, the participants displayed language-specific patterns of verb construal. These findings illuminate the way in which verb construal comes to reflect the properties of the input language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-319
Number of pages21
JournalCognition
Volume114
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Mar

Keywords

  • Adults
  • Language acquisition
  • Language typology
  • Preschoolers
  • Toddlers
  • Verb learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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    Maguire, M. J., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M., Imai, M., Haryu, E., Vanegas, S., Okada, H., Pulverman, R., & Sanchez-Davis, B. (2010). A developmental shift from similar to language-specific strategies in verb acquisition: A comparison of English, Spanish, and Japanese. Cognition, 114(3), 299-319. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2009.10.002