Chapter published in:Give Constructions across Languages
Edited by Myriam Bouveret
[Constructional Approaches to Language 29] 2021
► pp. 55–72
Talking about giving
From experience to language in child language
How do children learn to think and talk about giving? Despite the central role such verbs and their associated dative constructions have played in linguistic and developmental theory, relatively few studies have focused on how the linguistic and conceptual underpinnings for giving events are first established. In this paper, we present a study of the earliest utterances and interactions involving transfer events, defined here as an intentional transfer of possession or control. We elaborate the structure of transfer scenes in terms of both its participant structure and its different temporal phases, and catalogue the kinds of linguistic constructions the participants use to negotiate and coordinate their plans and actions. We then present a longitudinal study of parent-child interactions from the Providence Corpus, in which we have coded transfer events for linguistic form (utterance, constructions, speaker), participant structure (giver, recipient, gift), event phase, and pragmatic function (self-initiated, cooperative initiation, request). Results highlight several patterns, with the child using increasingly better-formed language for each phase while also becoming an increasingly active participant in initiating and managing transfer scenes. This progression may indicate that the child has mastered the “script” of such interactions, where the predictable nature of the event structure provides a convenient entry point to language (Nelson 2007). We further observe extended interactions in which the phases above each involve multiple steps; in these situations, it may instead be the well-established language associated with simpler events that provides the conceptual scaffold for the child to grasp more complex events. Overall, our analysis illuminates how the complex event structure of giving, and the variety of ways of talking about it, provide the means for the concurrent development and mutual reinforcement of language and conceptualization.
- 1.Setting the stage: The development of give
- 1.1 Events in cognition and language
- 1.2Event-centered methodology
- 1.3Current goals
- 2.Data, representations and methods
- 2.2The giving scene
- 3.Detailed analyses
- 3.1From context to language: Contextual uptake of linguistic structure
- 3.2From language to concept
- 4.Joint action and interaction
Published online: 10 March 2021
(2013) Référence à soi et à l’interlocuteur chez des enfants francophones et anglo- phones et leurs parents. Ph.D. dissertation, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3.
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