BUCLD 29 Online Proceedings Supplement

Edited by Alejna Brugos, Manuella R. Clark-Cotton and Seungwan Ha
April 2005

Does Event Structure Influence Children’s Motion Event Expressions?
Amanda Brown, Asli Ozyurek, Shanley Allen, Sotaro Kita, Tomoko Ishizuka and Reyhan Turanli
abstract | paper

Interpreting State-change: Learning the Meaning of Verbs and Verb Compounds in Mandarin
Jidong Chen
abstract | paper

Associations Between Native and Nonnative Speech Sound Discrimination and Language Development at the End of the First Year
Barbara Conboy, Maritza Rivera-Gaxiola, Lindsay Klarman, Elif Askylou and Patricia Kuhl
abstract | paper

An Adversity Passive Analysis of Early Sesotho Passives: Reanalyzing a Counterexample to Maturation
Jean Crawford
abstract | paper

Genes Take Over When the Input Fails: A Twin Study of the Passive
Jennifer Ganger, Sabrina Dunn and Peter Gordon
abstract | paper

Acquisition of Wh-in-situ: The Case of L2 Japanese
Yuhko Kayama
abstract | paper

Binding Interpretations by Korean Heritage Speakers and Adult L2 Learners of Korean
Ji-Hye Kim, Silvina Montrul and James Yoon
abstract | paper

Lexical and Functional Prepositions in Acquisition: Evidence for a Hybrid Category
Heather Littlefield
abstract | paper

Overt Subject Distribution in Early Italian Children
Paolo Lorusso, Claudia Caprin and Maria Teresa Guasti
abstract | paper

Underspecification and Default Morphology in Second Language Spanish
Corrine McCarthy
abstract | paper

Clitic-Climbing in Child Spanish and the Theory of Parameters
Miguel Rodriguez-Mondonedo, William Snyder and Koji Sugisaki
abstract | paper

The Acquisition of Japanese Topicalization and the Role of Discourse Context
Tetsuya Sano
abstract | paper

The Role of Input in the Acquisition of Generic NPs
Elisa Sneed
abstract | paper

Children Want to Access Every Interpretation Adults Do: Children’s Knowledge of Ambiguity in ACD Constructions
Kristen Syrett and Jeffrey Lidz
abstract | paper

Incomplete End State L2 Acquisition: L2 Spanish CLLD and English CLD constructions
Elena Valenzuela
abstract | paper

Children’s Interpretation of Phrasal Versus Compound -er Nominals in English
Angeliek van Hout and Andrea Bos
abstract | paper

Testing Effects of Bilingualism on Executive Attention: Comparison of Cognitive Performance on Two Non-verbal Tests
Sujin Yang and Barbara Lust
abstract | paper

Abstracts

BUCLD 29 Proceedings Supplement Abstracts

Does event structure influence children’s motion event expressions?

Amanda Brown 1,2, Asli Ozyurek 1, Shanley Allen 2, Sotaro Kita 3, Tomoko Ishizuka 4, Reyhan Furman 5
1 Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, 2 Boston University, 3 Bristol University, 4 UCLA, 5 Bogazii University

This study focuses on understanding of event structure, in particular therelationship between Manner and Path. Narratives were elicited from twenty 3-year-olds and twenty adults using 6 animated motion events that were divided into two groups based on Goldberg’s (1997) distinction between causal (Manner-inherent; e.g. roll down) and non-causal (Manner-incidental; e.g. spin while going up) relationships between Manner and Path. The data revealed that adults and children are sensitive to differences between inherent and incidental Manner. Adults significantly reduced use of canonical syntactic constructions for Manner-incidental events, employing other constructions. Children, however, while significantly reducing use of canonical syntactic constructionsfor Manner-incidental events, did not exploit alternative constructions. Instead, they omitted Manner from their speech altogether. A follow-up lexical task showed that children had knowledge of all omitted Manners. Given that this strategic omission of Manner is not lexically motivated, the results are discussed in relation to implications for pragmatics and memory load.

Interpreting State-change: Learning the Meaning of Verbs and Verb Compounds in Mandarin

Jidong Chen
Max Planck institute for Psycholinguistics

This study investigates how Mandarin-speaking children interpret state-change verbs. In Mandarin, state-change is typically encoded with resultative verb compounds (RVCs), in which the first verb (V1) specifies an action and the second (V2) a result, for example, zhai-xia ‘pick-descend’ (= pick, pick off/down). Unlike English state-change verb such as pick, smash, mix and fill, the action verb (V1) may imply a state-change but it does not entail it; the state-change is specified by the additional result verb (V2). Previous studies have shown that children learning English and German tend to neglect the state-change meaning in monomorphemic state-change verbs like mix and fill (Gentner, 1978; Gropen et al, 1991) and verb-particle constructions like abplücken ‘pick off’ (Wittek, 1999, 2000) – they do not realize that this meaning is entailed. This study examines how Mandarin-speaking children interpret resultative verb compounds and the first verb of an RVC. Four groups of Mandarin-speaking children (mean ages 2;6, 3;6, 4;6, 6;1) and an adult group participated in a judgment task. The results show that Mandarin-speaking children know from a very young age that RVCs entail a state-change; ironically, however, they make a mistake that is just the opposite to that made by the learners of English and German: they often incorrectly interpret the action verb (V1) of an RVC as if it, in itself, also entails a state-change, even though it does not. This result suggests that children do not have a uniform strategy for interpreting verb meaning, but are influenced by the language-specific lexicalization patterns they encounter in their language.

Associations Between Native and Nonnative Speech Sound Discrimination and Language Development at the End of the First Year

Barbara Conboy, Maritza Rivera-Gaxiola, Lindsay Klarman, Elif Askylou and Patricia Kuhl
University of Washington

One explanation for the preference for native over nonnative phoneme discrimination observed towards the end of the first year is that language experience produces a neural commitment to the features of native-language speech (Kuhl, 2000b; Kuhl, 2004). Studies have further suggested that this pattern is linked to subsequent language learning (Kuhl et al., in press; Rivera-Gaxiola et al., in press; Tsao, Liu, & Kuhl, 2004). In the present study we show that the extent to which perception favors native over nonnative speech at 11 months is also related to emerging language abilities at that same age. Infants from English-speaking homes were tested on English and Spanish phonemic contrasts in a Double-Target Head Turn task. As predicted, performance was better for the native vs. nonnative contrast at 11 months, and similar for both contrasts at 7 months. Word comprehension at 11 months was positively related to the degree of preference for native vs. nonnative discrimination.

An Adversity Passive Analysis of Early Sesotho Passives: Reanalyzing a Counterexample to Maturation

Jean Crawford
Boston University

Demuth (1989, 1990, 1992) claims passive verbs in children acquiring Sesotho discredits the Maturation Hypothesis (Borer and Wexler 1987). Babyonyshev et al (2001) propose if passives are required, children might employ ‘syntactic homophones’ (structural misanalyses) to produce a sentence that sounds adult-like. Demuth (1989) observed children acquiring Sesotho using passive forms at 2;8. Wexler (1999) suggests that these early forms are similar to Japanese adversity passives (Miyagawa 1989), whose syntax is different from verbal passives. Pylkkänen (2002) suggests that adversity passives have applicative syntax. I propose early Sesotho passives are adversity constructions and are syntactic homophones for verbal passives. Two children from Demuth’s Sesotho corpus (2;1-3;0 and 2;2-3;2) were examined. Many passive utterances contained the morpheme -ets- or -ts- in conjunction with the passive morpheme. These have previously been analyzed as the perfective morpheme, but they are also homophonous with the applicative morpheme. 32-56% of the children’s passives contained this morpheme. Most other purported passives in this study are suspect on other grounds (e.g., lexicalized forms, lack of alternation with active forms). The implications of the adversity passive analysis are discussed.

Genes Take Over When the Input Fails: A Twin Study of the Passive

Jennifer Ganger 1, Sabrina Dunn 1 and Peter Gordon 2
1 University of Pittsburgh, 2 Columbia University

To determine whether the rate of acquisition of passives is principally governed by linguistic input or endogenous processes, we compared heritability and environmentality coefficients using the twin method. We tested 169 pairs of identical and fraternal twins aged 3-6 years on passive voice comprehension. Half the items were actional, half-nonactional. Although heritability was small for all passives combined, there was a contrast between types of passives. Actionals had moderate shared environment (.53) and no heritability (-.20), while nonactionals showed moderate heritability (.50) and no shared environment (-.01).
This pattern is consistent with previous findings of Gordon & Chafetz (1990) regarding the frequency of passive types in children’s input. Since actional passives are frequent, individual differences in acquisition are influenced by linguistic environment. This is indicated by the stronger role of shared environment for these verbs. Non-actional passives, which are exceedingly rare in parental input, show no effects of environment and individual differences are conditioned instead by endogenous cognitive/linguistic abilities that are influenced by genetic differences.

Acquisition of Wh-in-situ: The Case of L2 Japanese

Yuhko Kayama
McGill University

This study investigates whether second language learners (L2ers) of Japanese can acquire the distinction among wh-phrases with non-movement properties. In Japanese, wh-phrases do not undergo movement, unlike languages such as English, but remain in-situ. Thus, wh-phrases can appear in complex NPs (i.e. relative clauses (RCs)). Yet, not all wh-phrases are allowed in RCs; the wh-adjuncts, why and how, cannot occur in RCs because LF movement of why and how is disallowed, while other wh-phrases (who/when/where, etc.) undergo movement at LF. The contrast among wh-adjuncts in RCs is not explicitly taught in classrooms. If L2ers acquire this contrast, then such knowledge provides evidence of UG in L2 acquisition. The experiment was conducted with Korean and English learners of Japanese. The results show that both groups of learners are able to detect the unavailability of why/how phrases in RCs though still allowing other wh-phrases in RCs, suggesting L2ers’s full access to UG.

Binding Interpretations by Korean Heritage Speakers and Adult L2 Learners of Korean

Ji-Hye Kim, Silvina Montrul and James Yoon
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

This study investigates the acquisition of the Korean reflexive caki by learners with English L1 and Korean heritage speakers with the objective of teasing apart UG-related factors and language-specific factors in the acquisition/loss of Korean binding. We examined whether and how (i) the size of GC (UG property) and (ii) acceptability of sub-commanding antecedents (language-particular property) influence the interpretation of Korean binding by L2 learners of Korean and English-dominant Korean heritage speakers. Fourteen late learners of Korean with English L1 and 22 Korean heritage speakers and 30 Korean native controls completed a Truth Value Judgment Task composed of 72 stories testing GC-difference and sub-commanding antecedents. The results demonstrate that there is transfer from English to Korean binding in late L2 learners as well as Korean heritage speakers. On the other hand, L2 learners with English L1 behaved differently from Korean heritage speakers in treating the language-particular property (sub-commanding antecedents).

Lexical and Functional Prepositions in Acquisition: Evidence for a Hybrid Category

Heather Littlefield
Boston University

This study uses the longitudinal data of two children from the CHILDES database (MacWhinney & Snow, 1985, 1990) to examine the acquisition of prepositions. Recent syntactic research points toward a less homogeneous view of prepositions than is generally assumed. Most proposals draw a fundamental distinction between lexical and functional prepositions. If this distinction exists, then evidence should be found in the longitudinal acquisition of prepositions, given the patterning of lexical and functional elements in other domains of acquisition (namely, lexical use typically precedes functional use). The data from Naomi (Sachs, 1983; MacWhinney & Snow, 1985) and Sarah (Brown, 1973) show a steady, relatively rapid increase in their use of lexical prepositions over time, while functional prepositions do not enter their spontaneous speech until much later. Error rates also support such a difference: both children initially have a 100% error rate with functional prepositions, which doesn’t occur with the lexical prepositions.

Overt Subject Distribution in Early Italian Children

Paolo Lorusso 1, Claudia Caprin 2 and Maria Teresa Guasti 2
1 Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, 2 University of Milano-Bicocca

The distribution of the subjects in early Italian productions is used to retrieve information about the grammatical knowledge of children. We performed a cross-sectional study of 59 children’s productions (age 22/35 months) and a longitudinal study of 4 children’s utterances (age 18/39 months). The subject use is analysed in
* copula versus lexical verbs.
* unaccusative versus unergative/transitive.
The overt subjects were analized for:
* the nominal/pronominal status.
* the pre/ post verbal position.
We found that the subject use is greater with copula than main verbs and with unaccusative than unergative verbs and that SV order is preferred with “to be”, “transitive” and “unergative” verbs, while VS order with “unaccusative” verbs. These findings suggest that children distinguish between copula and lexical verbs and between “unergative” and “unaccusative” verbs, showing that the subject of the unaccusative verbs is generated in internal argument position.

Underspecification and Default Morphology in Second Language Spanish

Corrine McCarthy
McGill University

Studies of L2 morphology have observed that learners often employ default forms in the place of targetlike morphology. Theories have focused on the source of these errors while largely ignoring the actual morphemes that surface as defaults. This paper begins with the observation that certain forms emerge as defaults (3rd person, singular, nonfinite, and masculine) whereas others do not (1st and 2nd person, plural, finite and feminine). Under the Morphological Underspecification Hypothesis proposed here, default morphology is underspecified morphology. Unmarked features are underspecified; the choice of what is unmarked is established based on independent criteria, and follows from assumptions in the theoretical literature. Spontaneous production data were collected from 11 speakers of L2 Spanish (L1 English). The data show that, for verbal agreement morphology and gender and number agreement in determiners, learners substitute underspecified morphemes, but not incorrectly specified morphemes. The predictions of the Morphological Underspecification Hypothesis are contrasted with those of the Missing Surface Inflection Hypothesis (Prevost and White 2000), which predicts that nonfinite forms can act as defaults, but makes no predictions regarding defaults among finite forms. Overall, the results suggest that, by inserting underspecified morphology, learners avoid feature clash in their productions.

Clitic-Climbing in Child Spanish and the Theory of Parameters

Miguel Rodriguez-Mondonedo 1, William Snyder 1 and Koji Sugisaki 2
1 University of Connecticut, 2 Mie University

While Spanish permits clitic-climbing (CC), French does not. Kayne (1989) has proposed that this cross-linguistic difference is tightly connected to the possibility of null subjects. If Wexler (1998) is correct in claiming that the null-subject parameter is set quite early, Kayne’s proposal predicts the following: Spanish-learning children will begin to use CC as soon as they acquire other relevant knowledge (specifically, clitics and infinitival complements); they will NEVER go through a stage in which enclisis (onto the lower infinitival) is consistently chosen over CC.
To evaluate this prediction, we analyzed five longitudinal Spanish corpora in the CHILDES database. The results show that NO CHILD acquired enclisis significantly earlier than CC. Our findings support Kayne’s parametric proposal that the possibility of CC follows directly from the positive setting of the null-subject parameter. The findings also support Wexler’s claim that this constitutes one of the early-set parameters.

The Acquisition of Japanese Topicalization and the Role of Discourse Context

Tetsuya Sano
Meiji Gakuin University

Japanese canonical active sentences have an SOV word order. In this paper, I inquire into children’s comprehension of Japanese OSV object topicalization.

(1) buta-wa zou-ga ketobashi-masi-ta.
pig-Top elephant-Nom kick-Polite-Past
‘The pig, the elephant kicked.’

Young children have difficulties in comprehending (1) (age 3-4: 30.5%(11/36), age 5-6: 59.4%(38/64)). However, when the topicalized phrase is introduced in previous discourse and it is accompanied by a definite marker sono ‘that’, as in (2), children of the same age performed very well with it (age 3-4: 80.6%(29/36), age 5-6: 100%(64/64)).

(2) zou, kaeru ga i-masi-ta        sokoe buta-ga yatteki-masi-ta.
elephant frog-Nom be-Polite-Past there pig-Nom come-Polite-Past
‘There was an elephant and a frog, and there came a pig.’
sono buta-wa zou-ga ketobashi-masi-ta.@
pig-Top elephant-Nom kick-Polite-Past
‘That pig, the elephant kicked.’

Thus, young children do not lack grammatical knowledge of topicalization, confirming the Continuity Assumption of grammatical competence (see Otsu (1994) for a similar result with scrambling).

The Role of Input in the Acquisition of Generic NPs

Elisa Sneed
Northwestern University

Much recent work by Gelman and colleagues (Gelman, 2004; inter alia) has shown that parents use all types of noun phrases (NPs) to refer to generic concepts, and has argued that children must therefore rely heavily on contextual cues and world knowledge to determine whether a given utterance was generic. In short, these authors argued that the input by itself, except in the broadest sense (i.e. children can attend to the use of the plural when their caregiver says, for example, “They bark” in the presence of a single dog) is uninformative regarding generic interpretation. In this paper, I show that a more careful examination of a subset of the transcripts used in these studies (Gelman and Raman, 2003; Gelman and Tardif, 1998) reveals a systematic distribution of types of noun phrases in the input that a child could latch onto to learn about the expression of genericity.

Children Want to Access Every Interpretation Adults Do: Children’s Knowledge of Ambiguity in ACD Constructions

Kristen Syrett and Jeffrey Lidz
Northwestern University

Recent investigations into children’s acquisition of quantification indicate children strongly prefer the surface scope reading of quantificational elements in scopally-ambiguous sentences. Gualmini (2003) and Lidz et al. (2004) argue that this isomorphism preference is due to performance, not competence, factors. Given that vP is a possible landing site for QR (Fox 1999, Merchant 2000), isomorphism in sentences with negation might result from vP (located below NegP) being the only available site. We examined children’s interpretations of sentences with multiple landing sites for QR to determine whether they are restricted to short (vP-level) QR. We show that children can perform long QR and can access both interpretations of ambiguous ACD constructions. These findings support the performance account of isomorphism and the conclusion that children’s grammars are adult-like with respect to quantification. Adults and children differ in the preferred interpretation, raising an issue of possible differences in sentence comprehension strategies.

Incomplete End State L2 Acquisition: L2 Spanish CLLD and English CLD constructions

Elena Valenzuela
McGill University and McMaster University

Sorace (1993, 1999, 2000, 2003), Robertson and Sorace (1999), and Tsimpli et al. (2003) argue that the interpretive domain, where the syntax interfaces with semantics, of the L2 end state grammar is vulnerable to fossilization and base persistent non-target forms on L1 influence. When the L2 input data are insufficient and the L2 speaker cannot restructure his/her grammar, the learner is unable to ‘let go’ of one of the two forms of the construction. The presence of two forms for one interpretation results in a permanent optionality between both variations. This permanent optionality is not found in the native grammar of the target language and is therefore a form of incomplete L2 acquisition. The present paper reports on a bidirectional study which examines the status of topic constructions, a discourse level operator, in the near-native L2 Spanish of L1 English speakers and the near-native L2 English of L1 Spanish speakers. We will show that, consistent with Sorace’s theory of optionality, fossilization occurs at the interpretive level.

Children’s Interpretation of Phrasal Versus Compound -er Nominals in English

Angeliek van Hout and Andrea Bos
University of Groningen

We present new evidence that children learning English are overly liberal in their interpretation of deverbal nominals such as sweeper of leaves. Such phrasal -er nominals with an of-PP complement can only refer to Agents (e.g., the one doing the sweeping, cf. Levin & Rappaport, 1988; Rappaport Hovav & Levin, 1992; Van Hout & Roeper, 1998). We found that children, however, readily allow Instrument readings (e.g., the broom the leaves are swept with). Our findings are in line with previous studies on deverbal nouns (Randall, 1982; Johnson, Bateman, Moore, Roeper & De Villiers, 1996), but are not compatible with Clark and Hecht’s (1982) proposal. Taken together these studies suggest that children are not yet sensitive to the syntax of argument structure mapping in derived nominals. Children’s syntactic representations do not differentiate phrasal and compound -er nominals, whereas those of the adults are essentially different. Thus children’s lexicon-syntax interface for derived nominals is not adult-like and they still need to learn subtle details of the syntax of argument structure when a verb is nominalized.

Testing Effects of Bilingualism on Executive Attention: Comparison of Cognitive Performance on Two Non-verbal Tests

Sujin Yang and Barbara Lust
Cornell University

The present study tested bilinguals’ cognitive performance on two non-verbal tasks of executive attention. The Dimension Change Card Sort (DCCS) is a bi-dimensional card sorting task and the Attention Network Test (ANT) is a computerized measure of attentional network. 26 four-year-old English monolinguals and Korean-English bilinguals completed the two tasks. We hypothesized that if bilingualism was beneficial to the development of executive attention, bilinguals would outperform monolinguals in the DCCS and ANT that tested the same processing variance. Our DCCS results fail to replicate bilinguals’ superior performance (Bialystok, 1999) but the ANT data support a positive relation between early childhood bilingualism and executive attention. However, these results raise issues about the relation between tasks assumed to test executive attention, since the two tasks did not correlate. We discuss the contrasting findings in the DCCS task.