The use of multiple frames in verb learning via syntactic bootstrapping.

Abstract

Following the original Syntactic Bootstrapping proposal of Landau and Gleitman (1985), this study investigated whether young 2-year-old children (mean age = 28 months) can use multiple syntactic frames, in addition to the extralinguistic scene, to help focus on the meaning of a novel verb. The multiple frames tested were combinations of transitive and intransitive frames in two alternation patterns, Causative and Omitted Object. By hypothesis, the Causative alternation would be more predictive of actions involving physical causation and the Omitted Object alternation more predictive of actions involving repeated physical contact without causation. Subjects were presented with videos depicting both actions, together with a novel verb. The actions were subsequently separated, and the children were asked to select which action was the referent of the novel verb. The novel verb was presented either in transitive and intransitive frames in the Causative alternation (CS: The duck is sebbing the frog, the frog is sebbing) or the Omitted Object alternation (OO: The duck is sebbing the frog, the duck is sebbing), or in intransitive frames only (IO: The duck is sebbing), or without a frame (FF: Sebbing!). In the CS, IO, and FF conditions, children preferred the causative action as the referent of the verb. However, the girls in the OO condition showed a significantly different preference, and looked more toward the contact actions than their peers in the other conditions did. This study thus provides the first experimental evidence that young 2-year-old children can use multiple syntactic frames to help determine the meaning of a novel verb.

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@article{Naigles1996TheUO, title={The use of multiple frames in verb learning via syntactic bootstrapping.}, author={Letitia R. Naigles}, journal={Cognition}, year={1996}, volume={58 2}, pages={221-51} }