BUCLD 28 Online Proceedings Supplement

Edited by Alejna Brugos, Linnea Micciulla, and Christine E. Smith
April 2004

Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up Transfer: Overgeneralized Causatives in L2 English and L2 Spanish
Mónica Cabrera and Maria Luisa Zubizarreta
abstract | paper

Syntax First: Mismatches between Morphology and Syntax in First Language Acquisition Elucidate Linguistic Theory
Cristina Dye, Claire Foley, Maria Blume, and Barbara Lust
abstract | paper

Task pragmatics and the lexicon: A re-examination of the role of language in cognition
Akiko Fuse and Laraine McDonough
abstract | paper

Optionality as ‘demarking’ in L2 advanced state
Masahiro Hara
abstract | paper

Why do children say did you went?: the role of do-support
Ryoko Hattori
abstract | paper

The acquisition of the German focus particle auch/too: Comprehension does not always precede production
Tanja Hüttner, Heiner Drenhaus, Ruben Van de Vijver, and Jürgen Weissenborn
abstract | paper

The role of argument structure and object familiality in Japanese children’s verb learning
Mutsumi Imai, Etsuko Haryu, and Hiroyuki Okada
abstract | paper

The Interaction of Lexical Aspect and Phonological Salience on Regular Past Tense Affixation in L2 English
Elaine C. Klein, Iglika Stoyneshka, Kent Adams, Yana Pugach, Stephanie Solt, and Tamara Rose
abstract | paper

Addressing the syntax/ semantics/ pragmatics interface: the acquisition of the Japanese additive particle mo
Kazumi Matsuoka
abstract | paper

On the Acquisition of Causatives in Japanese
Keiko Murasugi, Tomoko Hashimoto, and Sachiko Kato
abstract | paper

Against the Aspect First Hypothesis
Olesya Olbishevska
abstract | paper

Learning definite determiners: genericity and definiteness in English and Spanish
Ana T Perez-Leroux, Alan Munn, Cristina Schmitt, and Michelle Deirish
abstract | paper

Reappraising Poverty of Stimulus Argument: A Corpus Analysis Approach
Florencia Reali and Morten Christiansen
abstract | paper

Alternative Grammars in Acquisition: markedness- vs. faithfulness-oriented learning
Anthi Revithiadou and Marina Tzakosta
abstract | paper

The production of SE- and SELF-anaphors in Dutch child language
Esther Ruigendijk, Sergio Baauw, Sergey Avrutin, and Nada Vasic
abstract | paper

Acquisition of copulas ser and estar in Spanish: learning lexico-semantics, syntax and discourse
Cristina Schmitt, Carolina Holtheuer, and Karen Miller
abstract | paper

Influence of Parental Input on Learning Argument Structure Constructions
Nitya Sethuraman
abstract | paper

Aspect Marking and Modality in Child Vietnamese
Jennie Tran and Kamil Ud Deen
abstract | paper

Children’s understanding of the universal quantifier WH+mo in Japanese
Kyoko Yamakoshi
abstract | paper

Abstracts

Constructional Properties versus Lexical Specific Transfer: Overgeneralized Causatives in L2 English and L2 Spanish
Mónica Cabrera and María Luisa Zubizarreta
University of Southern California

This study provides evidence that overgeneralized causatives in L2 English and L2 Spanish is driven by selective L1 transfer. Not all aspects of the grammar are transferred at once. Properties of the causative construction are transferred first; verb-specific properties, later. Pre-advanced learners overgeneralize L1 properties of the causative construction: they prefer overgeneralized causatives with verbs of change of state/location. Advanced learners transfer properties of specific verb classes: they restrict the overgeneralization of causatives to verbs that are allowed in lexical causatives in their L1. Our analysis provides a unified account of the overgeneralization of causatives.

Syntax First: Mismatches between Morphology and Syntax in first language acquistion elucidate linguistic theory
Cristina Dye, Claire Foley, Maria Blume, and Barbara Lust
Cornell University and MIT

This paper examines several of the critical conceptual and analytic components of a theory of “Distributed Morphology” which appear to differentiate it from other theories and relates these to current studies of the acquisition of the morpho-syntax of verbal inflection in first language acquisition. It is argued that a wide set of results involving both experimental and natural speech analyses based on English, German, and Dutch initial child grammars between two and four years of age converge with the ‘syntax first’ properties of the “Distributed Morphology” paradigm. Implications for current linguistic theory and current acquisition theory are discussed.

Task pragmatics and the lexicon: A re-examination of the role of language in cognition
Akiko Fuse and Laraine McDonough
City University of New York

We examined spatial relational terms in Japanese and English in order to investigate how differences in collecting and coding data can influence our views on the role of language in cognition. Monolingual Japanese-speaking two-year-olds and adults were shown relations such as placing a ring on a pole and were asked to describe the activity. Adults produced 28 different spatial verbs and children produced 17. Tests using the same stimuli by Choi & Bowerman showed that English-speaking adults and children produce 6 and 3 different spatial prepositions respectively. However, verbs contain dynamic information (manner/path of action) whereas prepositions provide static information. We tested English speakers and coded for verb plus preposition combinations to capture categorization of dynamic and static aspects of spatial categories. The results showed no differences in the number of spatial categories produced by English and Japanese speakers; however, responses were significantly less variable among the Japanese speakers.

Optionality as ‘demarking’ in L2 advanced state
Masahiro Hara
Truman State University

This poster reports L2 advanced-state optionality in the grammaticality judgment of Japanese passives. This optionality is discussed as induced by ‘demarking’ (see Sorace, 2000) and originating in the lexicon. Data consist of grammaticality ratings of 84 sentences on a five-point scale collected from 81 English and 85 Chinese learners. It was found that highly advanced learners of both L1s consistently accepted grammatical ni indirect passive sentences, but optionally rated one of its ungrammatical versions as grammatical. It is argued that in rating the ungrammatical ni indirect sentences, these subjects analyzed them as the unmarked ni direct passive, smaller and less complex in structure than the marked ni indirect passive. The difference in structural complexity between these two passives derives from the properties of the two different passive verbs Watanabe (1996). Hence, the etiology of optionality is traceable to selection of different lexical items in the Numeration.

Why do children say did you went?: the role of do-support
Ryoko Hatttori
University of Hawaii, Manoa

This paper examines “doubling errors” in L1 acquisition, where “tense and/or agreement is incorrectly expressed twice– once on the ‘fronted’ auxiliary and once on the main verb” (O’Grady 1997; 166), as in:

*Did you went home?

Hurford (1975) claimed that doubling errors arise from an incorrectly internalized Subject Auxiliary Inversion rule, while Mayer et al. (1978) claimed that they are the result of incorrectly formulated movements, i.e., copying without deletion. Through the examination of doubling errors in yes/no questions and negative declaratives, which I classified into three groups that differentiate between these two hypotheses (those involving do-support, those involving be, and those involving modals) in three English-speaking children–Adam, Eve, and Sarah (Brown 1973) from CHILDES database (MacWhinney 2000), I show that neither hypothesis accurately accounts for the distribution of doubling errors. Instead, I propose that the main factor underlying doubling errors is the presence of the typologically unusual do-support. (150 words)

The acquisition of the German focus particle auch/too: Comprehension does not always precede production
Tanja Hüttner, Hein Drenhaus, Ruben van de Vijver,
University of Potsdam, Jürgen Weissenborn, Humboldt University, Berlin

The German focus particle auch (‘too’) occurs as a stressed and an unstressed variant, yielding two possible interpretations of sentences with auch, depending on the respective focus domain. As shown by Nederstigt (2001) children produce both variants of auch at age of 1;5. A picture selection task with children (age 2;11 – 7;8) and adults has shown that this productive knowledge of auch significantly precedes the interpretive knowledge. In addition, the data reflect that the comprehension of stressed auch is acquired before that of unstressed auch.

These results are explained as an integration problem with the different types of focus information. While in the stressed variant of auch the lexical and the prosodic information coindices, in the unstressed variant the prosodic information is not on auch itself, but on a following element. In this case the lexical information and the prosodic focus information must be integrated for a correct interpretation.

The role of argument structure and object familiarity in Japanese children verb learning
Mutsumi Imai, Etsuko Haryu, and Hiroyuki Okada
Keio University, University of Tokyo, and Tokai University

Previous research showed that young children had difficulty learning a new action verb, failing to generalize a novel verb to the same action when the object in the action was changed (Imai et al., 2002). The present research examined factors that might help children segregate the object from the representation of verb meaning. We tested whether explicit specification of the arguments facilitates verb learning even for Japanese children, who often hear verbs without arguments. Also manipulated was familiarity of the theme object. Because acquisition of verb meaning requires children to grasp the relation between nouns, children may learn verbs more easily when they have solid knowledge about the object.

The effect for object familiarity was found, but specification of the argument structure did not improve their performance. These results are compared to the results from English-speaking children (Mayer et al., 2003), and implications about universal and language-specific properties of verb meaning acquisition is discussed.

The Interaction of Lexical Aspect and Phonological Salience on Regular Past Tense Affixation in L2 English
Elaine C. Klein, Iglika Stoyneshka, Kent Adams, Yana Pugach, Stephanie Solt, and Tamara Rose
The CUNY Graduate Center, New York

This study investigates the influence of lexical aspect and phonology on variability in the perception and production of the past tense -ed morpheme among beginner and intermediate learners of L2 English. Under controlled conditions, we tested the hypothesis that telic (e.g. achievement) verbs are more readily associated with accuracy in regular past tense than are atelic (e.g. activity) verbs. To test the effects of phonology, we measured the degree to which accuracy depends on the allomorphic realization of a given verb’s past tense ending (i.e. -[t] as in stopped; v. [d] as in closed v. [Id] as in started). Results show little impact of lexical aspect, but very strong phonological effects, regardless of proficiency level. This investigation of learner variability suggests a weakening of the Primacy of Aspect hypothesis, and a more prominent role played by phonology in past tense affixation of L2 English.

Addressing the Syntax/ Semantics/ Pragmatics interface: the Acquisition of the Japanese Additive Particle _mo_
Kazumi Matsuoka
Keio University

The semantic interpretation of adverbs such as _only_, _also_, _even_ has been a central issue of alternative semantics for focus (Rooth 1996). Experimental research was conducted to investigate how children associate the syntactic position of the Japanese additive particle _mo_ with the range of the possible alternative set. Unlike its English equivalents such as _also_, the range of the alternative set in the interpretation of _mo_ is syntactically determined. Children from a daycare center in Osaka (mean 6;4) were tested with a Truth-value Judgment task (Crain and Mckee 1985).

Nearly half failed to demonstrate an adult-like comprehension of the sentences containing _mo_. Their response pattern indicated the possibility that their grammar provided a non-adult focus interpretation of _mo_, by choosing an alternative set regardless of the syntactic position of the focus item. Based on the finding, we will consider the process by which different focus items are interpreted.

On the acquisition of causatives in Japanese
Keiko Murasugi, Tomoko Hashimoto, and Sachiko Kato
Nanzan University, Nanzan University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology

We investigate the acquisition process of the Japanese causative construction, which employs the morpheme -(s)ase. Based on a four-year longitudinal observational study with a Japanese-speaking child, we show that the construction is acquired in three steps. First, causative sentences are produced without the morpheme -(s)ase, and then sentences like (1a) with a non-agentive causee are observed. And finally, children acquire more “regular” causatives with an agentive causee as in (1b).

1. a. Taroo-ga ningyoo-ni kutu -o hak -ase -ta
Taroo-Nom doll -DAT shoes-Acc put.on-cause-Past
‘Taroo put the shoes on the doll.’

b. Taroo-ga Hanako-ni hon-o yom-ase-ta
Taroo-Nom Hanako-Dat book-Acc read-cause-Past
‘Taroo made/let Hanako read a book.’

This study provides for Matsumoto’s (2000) hypothesis that causatives with the morpheme -(s)ase are structurally ambiguous: they may have a complex structure with -(s)ase as an independent verb as generally assumed in the literature, but they may also have a simple structure with a non-agentive causee and V-(s)ase as the predicate.

Against the Aspect First Hypothesis
Olesya Olbishevska
University of Ottawa

The study reports on two experiments testing the predictions of the Aspect First Hypothesis on Ukrainian. Experiment 1 tests young children’s production by observing what verbal aspectual morphology (perfective or imperfective) children predominantly use to express past and present. Experiment 2 is a comprehension study. It tests whether children use perfective morphology to encode telicity, and imperfective atelicity, i.e. whether they mark lexical aspect with the help of overt grammatical aspect marking.

The findings of the experiments provide evidence that 2.5 – 4.5 year olds do not restrict their use of perfective grammatical aspect to past tense and imperfective to present. The results demonstrate that even the youngest children could comprehend past tense equally when it is applied to events that are completed and to events that are incomplete. Therefore, the results do not seem to support either version of the Aspect First Hypothesis.

Learning definite determiners: Genericity and definiteness in English and Spanish
Ana T Perez-Leroux, Alan Munn, Cristina Schmitt, and Michelle Deirish
University of Toronto, Michigan State University, University of Toronto

This paper reports 2 studies comparing the interpretation of definite plurals in English and Spanish. In Spanish definite plurals can be interpreted as generics but English definite plurals cannot be, even in favoring contexts (present tense). Study 1 tested children’s interpretation of definites with 8 stories about two atypical members of their kind (e.g. zebras with spots.) Yes/no questions evaluated generic or specific interpretations of the subject with definites, bare plurals and demonstratives. Study 2 examined children’s ability to use tense to restrict definite generic interpretations. Our results show that while English children over-generalize the use of definite plurals to generics, both Spanish and English children are sensitive to Tense as a restrictor of generic interpretations.

Reappraising Poverty of Stimulus Argument: A Corpus Analysis Approach.
Florencia Reali and Morten Christiansen
Cornell University

The poverty of stimulus argument for innateness of grammar is based on the assumption that the information in the environment is not rich enough to allow a human learner to attain adult competence. Auxiliary fronting in polar interrogatives has been taken as strong support for the poverty of stimulus argument. Here we reassess the assumption of absence of evidence for aux-fronting through a corpus analysis of child-directed speech. We used bigram/trigram models to compare the probability of correct (Is the lion that is roaring hungry?) and incorrect (Is the lion that roaring is hungry?) hypotheses for auxiliary fronting. We found that the probability of correct aux-question sentences was about twice as high as the incorrect ones. These results show that the statistical information present in the corpus allows to select the correct fronting hypothesis in the 95% (trigram) and 92% (bigram) of the cases.

Alternative Grammars in Acquisition: markedness- vs. faithfulness-oriented learning
Anthi Revithiadou and Marina Tzakosta
University of the Aegean, Leiden University

Cross-linguistically a fixed set of markedness constraints derives children’s templatic truncations. It has been argued that children’s early productions realize the least sonorous segments of the preserved syllables of adult words. The proposal advanced in this paper, however, brings forward another crucial factor in the selection of the segmental make-up of such outputs, namely faithfulness to edgemost segments. More specifically, it is claimed that in the course of acquisition co-grammars, which exploit fine-grained markedness or faithfulness distinctions, are developed in parallel. In markedness driven co-grammars, segmental selection is performed on the basis of sonority scales: xri.’stu.lis ['tulich] ‘Christ-DIM’ whereas in faithfulness driven co-grammars, the edgemost consonant is produced: fri.ãa.’nu.la ['fula]/*’nula ‘toast-DIM’. Consequently, Greek raises significant questions about the nature of constraints and the dynamics of their rankings that construct early grammars and shape intermediate ones (i.e. co-grammars) towards the final stages of phonological development.

The production of SE- and SELF-anaphors in Dutch child language
Esther Ruigendijk, Sergio Baauw, Sergey Avrutin, and Nada Vasic
Ultrecht University

Some Dutch verbs can take either SE- (zich) or SELF-anaphors (zichzelf), depending on the context. Zich is preferred in non-contrastive, and zichzelf in contrastive situations. According to Reuland (2001), zich encodes the formation of a referential dependency in narrow syntax. Concretely, zich enters a feature checking relation with its local antecedent, resulting in the establishment of an A-Chain between zich and its antecedent. Zichzelf, on the other hand, is identified with its local antecedent through processes that lay outside narrow syntax.

19 Dutch children participated in a story elicitation task eliciting zich and zichzelf. They correctly produced SELF-anaphors in 72.7% of the zichzelf situations. Whereas they realized zich in only 30.6% of zich contexts, producing non-anaphoric, or empty elements. Children’s poor performance on zich shows that they have problems with the use of syntactic mechanisms (i.e., feature checking and A-Chain formation) to establish referential dependencies (Avrutin 1999). The results also show that children correctly differentiate between the discourse situations, which is important since this can hardly be learned from input.

Acquisition of copulars ser and estar in Spanish: Learning lexico-semantics, syntax and discourse
Christina Schmitt, Carolina Holtheuer, and Karen Miller
Michigan State University, University of Canberra, Michigan State University

Two experiments (PMT and Acceptability Tast) examine Chilean Spanish-speaking children’s knowledge of the be vers ser/estar. It is well-known in the linguistics literature, however, that the distribution of the be verbs ser/estar in Spanish depends on lexical and syntactic properties of the predicates they appear with and on discourse conditions. We hypothesize that, if discourse conditions are harder to master, then children should master first the other constraints and if children default to the unspecified form, they should default to ser. PMT examines children’s ability to use the context to make a choice. The AT examines children’s abililty to choose the copula based on lexical, syntactic and/or contextual information. Our results show that children use the unmarked ser as a default when the context is the sole determinant of the copula but not when other constraints can be used to guide the choice.

Influence of Parental Input on Learning Argument Structure Constructions
Nitya Sethuraman
Indiana University, Bloomington

How do cues change in mothers’ speech early in development? Does changing input help children learn argument structure patterns? Mothers’ speech to 20- and 28-month-olds was examined longitudinally (Bates et al. 1988; MacWhinney 1995). Specific patterns are used with one single high-frequency verb in mothers’ speech to 28-month-olds (Goldberg, et al. In Press). Children learn to associate the meaning of the pattern with the meaning of that verb, thereby progressing from specific knowledge of individual verbs to more general knowledge of argument structure (e.g., Bowerman 1982; Tomasello 2003). Mothers addressing younger children use one single verb in higher frequency in a particular pattern. Using a high-frequency token more often in a certain pattern may help younger children, barely starting to use the pattern, lock onto the meaning of that pattern more efficiently; older children already using the pattern are then provided with a larger variety of verbs in the pattern.

Aspect Marking and Modality in Child Vietnamese
Jennie Tran and Kamil Ud Deen
University of Hawaii, Manoa

This paper examines the acquisition of aspect morphology in the naturalistic speech of one Vietnamese child, aged 1;9. We show that while the omission of aspect markers is the predominant error, errors of commission are somewhat more frequent than expected (~18%). Errors of commission are thought to be exceedingly rare in child speech (<4%, Sano & Hyams, 1994), and thus it appears as if errors of commission in child Vietnamese are more common than in other languages. These errors occur exclusively with perfective markers in modal contexts, i.e., perfective markers occur with non-perfective, but modal interpretation. We propose, following Hyams (2002), that these errors are permitted by the child’s grammar since perfective features license mood. Additional evidence from the corpus shows that all the perfective-marked verbs in modal context are eventive verbs. We thus further propose that the corollary to RIs in Vietnamese is perfective verbs in modal contexts.

Children’s understanding of the universal quantifier WH+mo in Japanese
Kyoko Yamakoshi
Cornell University

In Japanese, wh-words are called indeterminate pronominals (Kuroda 1965) since they can be part of quantifiers. A universal quantifier corresponding to every is expressed by a wh-word with the particle mo (WH+mo). When WH+mo occurs with negation, it has a meaning close to the NPI any, although their behaviors are different in various respects. Since the forms of WH+mo and a wh-phrase are similar, children might misunderstand WH+mo as a wh-phrase. The results of our experiment show that children do misinterpret WH+mo as a wh-phrase when it is without negation, but, surprisingly, even three-year-old children interpret WH+mo correctly as a quantifier at much higher rates when it is with negation. The results suggest that children correctly understand WH+mo as a quantifier when it is with negation and that children are sensitive to the licensing of WH+mo by negation in the early stage of language acquisition.