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English resultative expressions have been a major focus of research on the syntax-semantics interface. We argue in this article that a family of related constructions is required to account for their distribution. We demonstrate that a number of generalizations follow from the semantics of the constructions we posit: the syntactic argument structure of the(More)
This is the first study to investigate experimentally how children come to learn mappings between novel phrasal forms and novel meanings: a central task in learning a language. Two experiments are reported. In both studies 5- to 7-year-old children watched a short set of video clips depicting objects appearing in various ways. Each scene was described using(More)
Whether particular arguments are overtly realized in languages like English is not random. A number of researchers have put forward sweeping generalizations in order to capture certain general tendencies. In this paper, however, it is argued that these analyses underestimate the role of constructions, detailed lexical semantics and discourse factors. Given(More)
An important question in the study of language production is the nature of the semantic information that speakers use to create syntactic structures. A common answer to this question assumes that thematic roles help to mediate the mapping from messages to syntax. However, research using structural priming has suggested that the construction of syntactic(More)
The present study exposed five-year-olds (M=5 ; 2), seven-year-olds (M=7 ; 6) and adults (M=22 ; 4) to instances of a novel phrasal construction, then used a forced choice comprehension task to evaluate their learning of the construction. The abstractness of participants' acquired representations of the novel construction was evaluated by varying the degree(More)
Why do people so often use metaphorical expressions when literal paraphrases are readily available? This study focuses on a comparison of metaphorical statements involving the source domain of taste (e.g., "She looked at him sweetly") and their literal paraphrases (e.g., "She looked at him kindly"). Metaphorical and literal sentences differed only in one(More)
—The acquisition of language has long stood as a challenge to general learning accounts, leading many theorists to propose domain-specific knowledge and processes to explain language acquisition. Here we review evidence that analogical comparison is instrumental in language learning, suggesting a larger role for general learning processes in the acquisition(More)
It is well-established that (non-linguistic) categorization is driven by a functional demand of prediction. We suggest that prediction likewise may well play a role in motivating the learning of semantic generalizations about argument structure constructions. We report corpora statistics that indicate that the argument frame or construction has roughly(More)