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Academic Paper


Title: What's in the input? Frequent frames in child-directed speech offer distributional cues to grammatical categories in Spanish and English
Author: Adriana Weisleder
Institution: Stanford University
Author: Sandra R. Waxman
Institution: Northwestern University
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Text/Corpus Linguistics
Subject Language: English
Spanish
Abstract: Recent analyses have revealed that child-directed speech contains distributional regularities that could, in principle, support young children's discovery of distinct grammatical categories (noun, verb, adjective). In particular, a distributional unit known as the frequent frame appears to be especially informative (Mintz, 2003). However, analyses have focused almost exclusively on the distributional information available in English. Because languages differ considerably in how the grammatical forms are marked within utterances, the scarcity of cross-linguistic evidence represents an unfortunate gap. We therefore advance the developmental evidence by analyzing the distributional information available in frequent frames across two languages (Spanish and English), across sentence positions (phrase medial and phrase final), and across grammatical forms (noun, verb, adjective). We selected six parent–child corpora from the CHILDES database (three English; three Spanish), and analyzed the input when children were aged 2 ; 6 or younger. In each language, frequent frames did indeed offer systematic cues to grammatical category assignment. We also identify differences in the accuracy of these frames across languages, sentences positions and grammatical classes.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 37, Issue 5, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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