KimEtAl_KoreanLocative - 1/15/99. In: Proceedings of the...

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1/15/99. In: Proceedings of the 23 rd Boston University Conference on Language Development. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press. 1 Cross-linguistic Differences in Children’s Syntax for Locative Verbs *Meesook Kim, Barbara Landau, and Colin Phillips University of Delaware 1 . Learnability and Syntax-Semantics Correspondences Learning a verb’s meaning and its associated syntactic structures pose a number of difficult problems for a learner. However, it is widely assumed that there are consistent correspondences between verb meanings and verb syntax, and that knowledge of these correspondences may provide important help to the learner (Gleitman 1990; Grimshaw 1981; Landau & Gleitman 1985; Pinker 1989; Gropen et al. 1991a,b). To take a simple example, English mental verbs like "think", "know", and "believe" take sentential complements, as do many other mental verbs in English and other languages. Accordingly, if this connection is universal, and if the learner knows this, then it could be very useful. If the learner already knows that a verb is a mental verb, then she can infer that it allows a sentential complement. If the learner hears an unfamiliar verb that takes a sentential complement, then this can be used as a clue that the verb might be a mental verb. In this paper we are primarily concerned with locative verbs, such as “pour”, “fill”, “load”, and “stuff”. Locative verbs encode the relationship between a moving object - the “Figure”- and a location - the “Ground”. Although locative verbs all show this semantic similarity, they fall into at least four different syntactic subclasses based on their syntactic possibilities (Pinker 1989), as shown in (1-4). In addition to the Figure and Ground Non -alternating classes, Alternating verbs are divided into two subclasses, the Figure Alternating verbs in (3) and the Ground Alternating verbs in (4), based on which argument is obligatory in both syntactic frames (see Pinker 1989). Non-Alternating Figure verbs in English ("dribble", "spill", “slop”, or "ladle") (1) a. John poured water Figure into the glass Ground . Figure-frame b. *John poured the glass Ground with water Figure . *Ground-frame manner-of-motion Non-Alternating Figure verbs Non-Alternating Ground verbs in English ("cover", "decorate", or "soak") (2) a. *John filled water Figure into the glass Ground . *Figure-frame b. John filled the glass Ground with water Figure . Ground-frame change-of-state Ground verbs
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2 Figure-Alternating verbs in English ("spray", "load", or "sow") (3) a. John piled books (on the table optional ). Figure-frame b. John piled the table with books. Ground-frame Ground-Alternating verbs in English ("paint", "wrap", or "stuff") (4) a. John stuffed feathers into the pillow. Figure-frame b. John stuffed the pillow (with feathers optional ). Ground-frame For example, the verb “fill” allows the Ground to be the direct object, and the Figure to be the indirect object, as in a sentence like “John filled the glass
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This note was uploaded on 10/07/2010 for the course LING 341 taught by Professor Masyayoshida during the Fall '10 term at Northwestern.

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KimEtAl_KoreanLocative - 1/15/99. In: Proceedings of the...

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