Lexical Assignability And Perspective Switch: The Acquisition of Verb Subcategorization For Aspectual Inflections

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This paper explores how children learn the range of aspect inflections to which a verb is amenable. The data considered are from observations of three Japanese boys aged between 1; 10 and 2; 1. Analyses focus on the children’s mastery of Aktionsart specific intersentential patterns. For example, in one pattern, a caregiver asks nani shiteiru? ‘What is someone or something doing’. The conventional answer is with the continuativete iru form of a verb that expresses an activity. Three conclusions are drawn. First, lexical assignment had begun before aspectual inflections were used to signal temporal perspective switch. Secondly, lexical assignment began with anchorpoints tying certain lexical contrasts to the Aktionsart of minimal sentences. Thirdly, overgeneralizations of aspect inflections are due to the difficulty of acquiring devices that signal temporal perspective switch.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-392
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Child Language
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Psychology(all)

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