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The Acquisition of Heritage Languages

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"This work centres on the grammatical development of the heritage language and the language learning trajectory of heritage speakers, synthesizing recent experimental research."


Academic Paper


Title: Note of Clarification on the Coding of Light Verbs in 'Semantic Generality, Input Frequency and the Acquisition of Syntax' (Journal of Child Language 31, 61–99)
Author: Elena V. Lieven
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Semantics; Syntax
Abstract: In our recent paper, 'Semantic generality, input frequency and the acquisition of syntax' (Journal of Child Language 31, 61–99), we presented data from two-year-old children to examine the question of whether the semantic generality of verbs contributed to their ease and stage of acquisition over and above the effects of their typically high frequency in the language to which children are exposed. We adopted two different categorization schemes to determine whether individual verbs should be considered to be semantically general, or 'light', or whether they encoded more specific semantics. These categorization schemes were based on previous work in the literature on the role of semantically general verbs in early verb acquisition, and were designed, in the first case, to be a conservative estimate of semantic generality, including only verbs designated as semantically general by a number of other researchers (e.g. Clark, 1978; Pinker, 1989; Goldberg, 1998), and, in the second case, to be a more inclusive estimate of semantic generality based on Ninio's (1999a,b) suggestion that grammaticalizing verbs encode the semantics associated with semantically general verbs. Under this categorization scheme, a much larger number of verbs were included as semantically general verbs.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 33, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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