Chapter published in:Current Perspectives on Child Language Acquisition: How children use their environment to learn
Edited by Caroline F. Rowland, Anna L. Theakston, Ben Ambridge and Katherine E. Twomey
[Trends in Language Acquisition Research 27] 2020
► pp. 113–130
The retreat from transitive-causative overgeneralization errors
A review and diary study
This chapter summarises research on how children avoid overgeneralizations of verb argument structure, focussing on the transitive-causative construction (e.g. *I’m dancing it [c.f. I’m making it dance]). It then presents some new data that bear on this issue: diary data of these types of utterances produced by the second author (from birth up until age 4;0), collected by the first author. These data are used to argue that, although errors from the point of view of the adult grammar, many of these utterances are in fact perfectly matched to the communicative needs of each situation; more so in fact than the corresponding adult forms would have been. For example, the utterances Can you jump me off?, Jump me!, Jump me down and Jump me up there do not mean ‘Do something that indirectly causes ME to instigate jumping’; the meaning implied by the periphrastic-causative construction (e.g., “Can you make me jump?”). Rather, the type of causation intended here is single-event, direct, external causation, of almost exactly the type that is typically conveyed by the transitive-causative construction (e.g., I broke a cup). The rather radical implication is that semantics must be represented not at the level of the verb but of individual events, necessitating an exemplar model under which (in principle) all witnessed utterances are stored along with some representation of the event to which they refer.
Published online: 17 September 2020
(in press). Against stored abstractions: A radical exemplar model of language acquisition. First Language. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/gy3ah/> (27 January 2020).
Ambridge, B., & Lieven, E. V.
Ambridge, B., Barak, L., Wonnacott, E., Bannard, C., & Sala, G.
Ambridge, B., Pine, J. M., Rowland, C. F., Jones, R. L., & Clark, V.
Ambridge, B., Pine, J. M., & Rowland, C. F.
Ambridge, B., Pine, J. M., Rowland, C. F., & Young, C. R.
Bidgood, A., Pine, J. M., Rowland, C. F., Sala, G., Freudenthal, D. T., & Ambridge, B.
(submitted). Verb argument structure overgeneralisations for the English intransitive and transitive constructions: Grammaticality judgments, production priming and a meta-analytic synthesis. Preprint: https://osf.io/4ns9d/> (27 January 2020).
Bowerman, M., & Croft, W.
Braine, M. D. S., & Brooks, P. J.
Bresnan, J., & Nikitina, T.
Chouinard, M. M., & Clark, E. V.
Goldberg, A. E.
Harmon, Z., & Kapatsinski, V.
Herbst, T., & Stefanowitsch, A.
Hopper, P. J., & Thompson, S. A.
Maslen, R. J., Theakston, A. L., Lieven, E. V., & Tomasello, M.
Ramscar, M., & Yarlett, D.
Cited by 3 other publications
Ambridge, Ben, Laura Doherty, Ramya Maitreyee, Tomoko Tatsumi, Shira Zicherman, Pedro Mateo Pedro, Ayuno Kawakami, Amy Bidgood, Clifton Pye, Bhuvana Narasimhan, Inbal Arnon, Dani Bekman, Amir Efrati, Sindy Fabiola Can Pixabaj, Mario Marroquín Pelíz, Margarita Julajuj Mendoza, Soumitra Samanta, Seth Campbell, Stewart McCauley, Ruth Berman, Dipti Misra Sharma, Rukmini Bhaya Nair & Kumiko Fukumura
Aryawibawa, I Nyoman, Yana Qomariana, Ketut Artawa & Ben Ambridge
Quick, Antje Endesfelder, Ad Backus & Elena Lieven
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 18 september 2021. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.