BUCLD 31 Online Proceedings Supplement

Edited by Heather Caunt-Nulton, Samantha Kulatilake and I-hao Woo
March 2007

The Acquisition of Early Verb Constructions in Albanian: A First Look at Transitives and Intransitives
Enila Cenko and Nancy Budwig
abstract | paper

Acquisition of Putting Event Verbs in French
Florence Chenu and Harriet Jisa
abstract | paper

Constituent Order or Order of Constituents: The Acquisition of Hebrew DPs
Yael Fuerst
abstract | paper

Developmental Variation in the Acquisition of L1 Russian Verb Inflection by Monolinguals and Bilinguals
Natalia Gagarina, Sharon Armon-Lotem and Olga Gupol
abstract | paper

Temporal Quantification in Child Language
Bart Hollebrandse
abstract | paper

Acquisition of Aspectual Meanings in a Language with and a Language Without Morphological Aspect
Angeliek van Hout
abstract | paper

Individual Differences in Preschoolers’ Ability to Generalize Unaccusative Intransitive Constructions in Novel Verb Experiments: Evidence from Their Familiar Verb Usage in Naturalistic Play Contexts
Juan Hu, Nancy Budwig, Kaya Ono & Hang Zhang
abstract | paper

What Does the Acquisition of the Involuntary State Construction in Serbo-Croatian Have to Tell Us about the Ability to Represent A-Chains in 3-Year-Olds?
Tatjana Ilic
abstract | paper

Japanese Postposing as an Indicator of Emerging Discourse Pragmatics
Jun Nomura
abstract | paper

Childrens acquisition of evidentiality
Ozge Ozturk and Anna Papafragou
abstract | paper

Auditory Lexical Decision in Children with Specific Language Impairment
Fabrizio Pizzioli and Marie-Anne Schelstraete
abstract | paper

Early Acquisition of Copy & Movement in a Japanese OSV Sentence
Tetsuya Sano
abstract | paper

Plural Noun Phrases in Late Simultaneous Bilingualism: A Study of English-Italian and Spanish-Italian Children
Ludovica Serratrice, Antonella Sorace, Francesca Filiaci & Michela Baldo
abstract | paper

L2 Knowledge of the Intervention Effect in English-Speaking Learners of Korean
Hyang Suk Song
abstract | paper

Is Intonation Impaired in Children with Williams Syndrome
Vesna Stojanovik, Jane Setter and Lizet van Ewijk
abstract | paper

How Late is Late in Acquisition? Evidence from a Mexican Indigenous Language
Vianey Varela
abstract | paper

Acquisition of Scalar Implicatures: When Some of the Crayons will do the Job
Anna Verbuk
abstract | paper


The Acquisition of Early Verb Constructions in Albanian: A  First Look at Transitives and Intransitives
Enila Cenko and Nancy Budwig, Clark University

This study investigates 2- and 3-year-old Albanian-speaking children’s acquisition of transitive and intransitive constructions. Albanian provides an interesting contrast to English because transitive and unergative constructions (both active voice) are distinguished morphologically from unaccusatives which are overtly marked as non-active voice. 16 children and their caregivers were videotaped in naturalistic interactions in their homes for approximately one hour. All uses of transitive, unergative and unaccusative constructions by each child were analyzed. Findings reveal that all children were able to use multiple constructions; most children used at least one verb in multiple constructions with the appropriate morphological markings. Each construction was also linked with distinct focus and semantic agency of sentence subjects and separate communicative functions. These findings suggest that from early on Albanian-speaking children may move beyond item based usage of verbs to make generalizations adapted to their developmental and communicative needs.

Acquisition of Putting Event Verbs in French
Florence  Chenu and Harriet Jisa
Laboratoire Dynamique du Langage-CNRS and Universite Lyon 2

It has been argued that the frequent use of a small number of generic verbs favours the child’s abstraction of the verb’s meaning (Clark,1978,1996; Sandhofer, Smith & Luo 2000, Slobin,1996). Goodman & Sethuraman(2006) propose that the consistent adult use of light verbs in a given syntactic frame facilitates the child¡¯s acquisition of other verbs used for the same kind of activity in that frame. Goldberg, Casenhiser & Sethuraman(2004) attribute a learning advantage to high frequency generic verbs due to considerable regularity between the syntactic patterns in which the verbs are observed and their semantics. For instance, verbs found in the pattern X causes Y to move Z path/location (Subject Verb Object Oblique, John puts/places/pushes the glass on the table) were more often than would be expected by chance to be associated with caused-motion in the speech directed to 27 English-speaking children as well as in the early speech of the children. The light generic verb mettre (put) is very frequent in spoken French, it can be used to denote a multitude of putting events (caused-motion actions) and it is acquired early on (Chenu & Jisa,2005). In addition to the generic verb mettre, French has a host of other more semantically specific verbs that can be used for the same caused-motion situations as mettre (for example, accrocher, to hook onto, attacher, to attach to, enfiler to slip on). These more specific verbs are observed infrequently in child-directed speech (Chenu & Jisa,2006). In this paper we examine three French-speaking children¡¯s acquisition of verbs in a particular semantic domain putting events. (Bowerman, Brown, Eisenbeiss, Narasimhan & Slobin 2002). We predicted that the frequent use of the generic verb mettre (put) in a consistent syntactic frame would lead to the acquisition of other verbs encoding caused-motion events. Our findings, however, do not confirm the prediction. We attribute our results to the fact that caused-motion verbs in French confront the child with two contrasting patterns: generic mettre follows a satellite-framed pattern while the other more semantically specific verbs follow a verb-framed pattern (Talmy,2000).

Constituent Order or Order of Constituents: The  Acquisition of Hebrew DPs
Yael Fuerst, Yale University

This study is concerned with the existence and availability of functional projections in young children’s grammars, focusing on Hebrew DPs. Naturalistic production data of Hebrew acquiring children (ages 1;4-2;0) were examined. Two structures involving DP internal movement-free genitive possessive construction and attributive adjective construction¡ªwere investigated, and it was found that from the early utterances, children use the target language’s word order. These data stand in contrast to a previous analysis of the acquisition of Hebrew DPs, which suggests a misanalysis and reanalysis stage of the input (Armon-Lotem 1998). Thus, I argue that the reanalysis approach is both theoretically and empirically inadequate. Instead, the data leads to the conclusion that Hebrew acquiring children utilize functional layers, supporting Strong Continuity (Poeppel & Wexler 1993; Bohnacker 1997).

Developmental Variation in the Acquisition of L1  Russian Verb Inflection by Monolinguals and Bilinguals
Natalia Gagarina*, Sharon Armon-Lotem and Olga  Gupol**Research  Center  for General Linguistics, Berlin*;  Bar Ilan University, Israel**

This paper investigates developmental variation in the early Russian verb development of Russian-Hebrew sequential bilingual children and Russian monolingual children, focusing on the erroneous use of verbal inflections. The questions addressed by this study arise from the underlying hypothesis that Russian-Hebrew bilinguals’ use of verbs might be different from that of Russian monolinguals, showing a cross-linguistic influence (of Hebrew on Russian, in our case). While most previous studies have been primarily concerned with L1 interference into L2 acquisition (cf. Meisel 2004), the current study tests L2 impact on L1 development as manifested in the use of verb morphology. We show that verb-inflectional errors of monolinguals of a younger age are still rather typical for older bilinguals. In addition, bilinguals make some unique errors which can be attributed to the bilingual setting. Errors found in both populations may indicate a delay (for the early bilinguals) and even possible attrition (for the late bilinguals), while errors which are unique for bilinguals may hint at L2 influence. The disappearance of monolingual errors in the course of time supports an analysis in terms of L2 influence on L1 development.

Temporal Quantification in Child Language
Bart Hollebrandse
University of Groningen  and Smith College,  Northampton

Young children interpret nominal variables in different ways than adults do. They judge Every witch conjures up an apple as false in a context with an “unconjured” apple. These children clarify their answer by referring to that single apple. This paper focuses on temporal quantification. Do children differentiate between different variables, such as nominal, event and temporal variables. Twenty-two Dutch children and twenty-six Dutch adults were tested judging sentences such as (1) in contexts alternating events during nights and days.

Elke nacht tovert een heks een appel.

every night conjures up a witch an apple

The main result is that spreaders ignore the temporal variable completely. Furthermore clarifications of the children showed that quantification took place over events rather than over individuals. This shows that children favor event quantification over temporal quantification.

Acquisition of Aspectual  Meanings in a Language with and a Language Without Morphological Aspect
Angeliek van Hout
University of Groningen

In this study on the acquisition of aspectual form-to-meaning correspondences, I compare Polish and Dutch learners. In Polish, aspect is a grammatical category verbs are marked perfective or imperfective. In Dutch aspectual meanings are carried by different past tenses. The results from a comprehension experiment reveal that meaning perfective/imperfective, and not form aspect as grammatical category determines development. Learners have acquired the completion entailment of Dutch Present Perfect and Polish Perfective Aspect by the age of 3, but have not learned that Imperfect Past and Imperfective Aspect imply ongoingness. The acquisition of perfective meaning thus comes earlier than imperfective, independent of how these aspects are formed in the language. This supports the hypothesis that some meanings are easier to acquire than others: more complex meanings those that involve aspect shift are harder.

Individual Differences in  Preschoolers’ Ability to Generalize Unaccusative Intransitive Constructions in  Novel Verb Experiments: Evidence from Their Familiar Verb Usage in Naturalistic  Play Contexts
Juan Hu, Nancy Budwig, Kaya Ono & Hang Zhang
Clark University

Previous studies suggest that great individual differences exist in children’s ability to generalize newly-learned verbs in an unmodeled construction. Few studies have explored individual differences in generalization ability by looking at children’s familiar verb usage (see though Smith, 2006). The present study attempts to fill the gap by examining 18 preschool children’s generalization performance in novel verb experiments (see Ono & Budwig, 2006) as well as those children’s familiar verb usage during naturalistic play interactions with their mothers. Results indicate that generalizing children differ from non-generalizing children not in age or in the size of verb vocabulary, but in the complexity and in the range of subject profiles at the construction level; generalizing children used more elaborate constructions in the naturalistic play, and their constructions made use of more diverse sentence subjects. Discussion focuses on factors accounting for the individual variation in children’s generalization ability.

What Does the Acquisition of  the Involuntary State Construction in Serbo-Croatian Have to Tell Us about the  Ability to Represent A-Chains in 3-Year-Olds?
Tatjana Ilic, University of Hawaii  at Manoa

The involuntary state construction in Serbo-Croatian involves covert A-movement, while at the same time has no syntactic-homophones, and therefore is predicted to be a problematic acquisition for children younger than at least four by both the “A-Chain Deficit Hypothesis” (Borer and Wexler, 1987; 1992; Babyonyshev et al., 2001, etc.) and the “Universal Phase Requirement” hypothesis (Wexler 2004; Hirsch and Wexler, 2004). However, these predictions do not come to bearing. We conclude that covert A-movement of Agreeing internal arguments is not subject to biological maturation.

Japanese Postposing as an Indicator of Emerging Discourse  Pragmatics
Jun Nomura, University of Hawaii  at Manoa

This study shows that children acquiring Japanese show discourse-pragmatic knowledge in postposing. Although Japanese is claimed to be predicate-final, speakers occasionally produce elements post-verbally (postposing).Postposing is claimed to be discourse-pragmatically (and sometimes grammatically) motivated; it is used for pragmatic repair (PP), deliberate defocusing (DD), sophisticated pragmatics (SP), or grammatical repair (GR). Some researchers claim that children’s postposing is adult-like, indicating early discourse-pragmatic awareness, while others emphasize late development of discourse pragmatics. This study was aimed at examining two-year-olds’ discourse-pragmatic competence by analyzing their use of postposing. The data came from two children (1;9-2;5 and 2;1-2;9). Clear examples of each postposing type were identified to examine the point of emergence of the four types of postposing. The results show that they emerge in the same order (DD~PR>SP>GR), indicating that children are/become aware of information structure and information structure at age two.

Children’s Acquisition of Evidentiality
Ozge Ozturk and Anna Papafragou, University of Delaware

This paper investigates the acquisition of evidentiality (linguistic encoding of information-source) and its relation to evidential reasoning in Turkish children. We focused on two evidential verbal morphemes in Turkish: -DI and -MIS, which indicate direct evidence and hearsay/indirect experience respectively. A series of experiments asked whether 3-6-year-old Turkish children have acquired the semantics/pragmatics for evidential morphemes and understand the source concepts behind them. We conclude that the acquisition of evidential morphology is difficult for young Turkish learners; specifically, the unavailability of stable/obvious situational correlates when an evidential morpheme is heard complicates the process of mapping morphemes onto antecedently available evidential categories.

Auditory Lexical Decision in  Children with Specific Language Impairment
Fabrizio Pizzioli and Marie-Anne Schelstraete
Universite Catholique de Louvain

Spoken word recognition was investigated in fifteen children with specific language impairment (SLI) with comprehension problems, fifteen normally developing children matched on receptive vocabulary (RVC) and fifteen children matched on chronological age (NL). Accuracy and decision times were evaluated using an auditory lexical decision task. A sound detection and sound discrimination tasks were used to probe simple reaction times and nonverbal decision times. In the lexical decision task, children with SLI were slower -but not less accurate- than NL children, however they were comparable to RVC children for accuracy and latency. Besides, in the nonverbal tasks no significant difference emerged. Results suggest that lexical development in children with SLI is delayed rather than deviant and that compared to the age matched children they have an inefficiently organized lexicon or inefficient lexical retrieval mechanisms, but not gross problems in the acoustic-phonetic analysis.

Early Acquisition of Copy & Movement in a Japanese OSV  Sentence
Tetsuya Sano, Meiji Gakuin University

In this paper, I argue that, in early child Japanese, an OSV sentence is derived by movement which leaves a copy, the same as in adult Japanese. With the truth value judgment task, I show that 4-year-olds mostly accept Q-float from scrambled Object in (1) (81.8% (18/22)), while rejecting Q-float from Subject in (2) (100% (22/22)).

(1) (Sono) kuma-o buta-ga ni-hiki kosutteru yo. (sono)O S Q V (ok w/ ?gtwo bears?h)
(the) bear(s) Acc pig(s) Nom two brush-TEIRU ?gTwo (of the) bears, a pig is brushing.?h

(2) (Sono) kuma-ga buta-o ni-hiki kosutteru yo. (sono)S O Q V (* w/ ?gtwo bears?h)
(the) bear(s) Nom pig(s) Acc two brush-TEIRU ?g(The) bear is brushing two pigs.?h

Following Kuroda (1980)?fs analysis of Q-float licensing, I argue that my experimental data indicate that an OSV sentence in early child Japanese is derived by movement which leaves a copy.

Plural Noun Phrases in Late  Simultaneous Bilingualism: A Study of English-Italian and Spanish-Italian Children

Ludovica  Serratrice*, Antonella Sorace, Francesca Filiaci &  Michela Baldo*
*The University   of Manchester , University   of Edinburgh

This study compared the ability of English-Italian and Spanish-Italian bilingual children and monolingual peers (age range 6;0-10;0) to judge the acceptability of plural definite NPs and plural bare NPs in specific and generic contexts in English and Italian.
According to Chierchia’s (1998) Nominal Mapping Parameter, nominals in Italian and Spanish map onto predicates [-arg, +pred] and need a definite article to be turned into arguments. By contrast, in English nominals can map onto predicates or onto arguments [+arg,+pred], as such bare nouns are allowed in argumental position. The Spanish-Italian bilinguals who are acquiring two languages with an identical parametric setting provided the same judgements as the Italian monolinguals. The English-Italian bilinguals behaved similarly to the English-speaking monolinguals, but accepted significantly more bare NPs in Italian than both the monolinguals and the Spanish-Italian bilinguals. These results provide evidence for the possibility of cross-linguistic interference at the syntax-semantics interface in simultaneous bilingualism.

L2 Knowledge of the Intervention Effect in  English-Speaking Learners of Korean
Hyang Suk Song, University of Hawaii

The study investigates whether English-speaking learners of Korean acquire a restriction on the placement of negative polarity items (NPIs) relative to wh-words. Unlike in English, wh-phrases in Korean remain in situ and may optionally scramble in both positive contexts and negative contexts when there is no NPI in the sentence. However, scrambling of the wh-phrase is obligatory when an NPI is present (¡ã¡ÞIntervention Effect¡ã¡À Beck and Kim 1997). The experiment used an elicited-production task (McDaniel, McKee & Cairns 1998). The results show that some L2ers mirror native Koreans: none of the L2ers scrambled wh-phrases in positive contexts or negative non-NPI contexts but some scrambled in NPI contexts. Even though the intervention effect is neither the instruction nor the L1, some L2ers show native-like performance on so-called poverty-of-the-stimulus phenomenon (Schwartz & Sprouse 2000), providing strong evidence that l2 acquisition is guided by Universal Grammar.

Is Intonation Impaired in Children with William’s Syndrome
Vesna Stojanovik, Jane Setter and Lizet van  Ewijk
University of Reading

Williams syndrome (WS) is a rare genetic disorder often associated with relatively good linguistic abilities and poor general cognitive functioning. Anecdotal evidence suggests that individuals with WS have ‘odd’ intonation, however there has not been any systematic investigation of the expressive and receptive intonation abilities in this population. A study by Reilly, Klima and Bellugi (1990) reported abnormally high use of affective expressive prosody (pitch changes, vocalic lengthening and modifications in volume) by adolescents with WS. Receptive prosodic skills, however, were not investigated. A recent study by Catterall, Howard, Stojanovik, Szczerbinski and Wells (2006) tested two adolescents with WS using the manual version of Profiling Elements of Prosodic Systems for Children (PEPS-C) battery (Wells and Peppe, 2001) and found impaired expressive and receptive prosodic abilities when compared to chronological age (CA) matched controls, in all aspects of the understanding and production of prosody. It is of theoretical importance that intonation abilities in children with WS are investigated because there is no consensus as to whether intonation is independent of morpho-syntactic and general intellectual abilities (Wells and Peppe, 2003). The aims of the present study are: 1) to investigate the understanding and production of intonation of children with WS using specially designed software developed to assess comprehension and production of intonation in children; 2) to investigate whether there is a correlation between language abilities and intonation skills; 3) to investigate intonation performance of children with WS in spontaneous speech and compare this to the intonation performance of TD children of a similar language and chronological age. A group of 15 children with WS (7;06 to 13;09) is compared to a group of 15 CA matched children and a group of 15 children matched for receptive language age. The WS group performed similarly to the LA group on all intonation tasks apart from the Long-item imitation task on which the WS group scored significantly lower than the LA group. When compared to the CA group, the WS group was significantly poorer on all aspects of intonation. Whereas there were a number of significant correlations between the intonation and language measures in the control groups, in the WS group there was only one significant correlation between a PEPS-C task and one of the language measures. Laryngograph analysis of the spontaneous speech data showed that the WS group had a significantly wider pitch range than the control groups, which may be perceived as a greater level of emotional involvement. In conclusion, the intonation of children with WS is not impaired relative to their receptive language skills, although it is impaired relative to their chronological age. It also seems to be the case that language and intonation abilities in the WS participants in the present study are not strongly related. The children with WS were different from the younger typically developing children with regard to their use of pitch range, which may be one of the reasons why these children are perceived as having an ¡®odd¡¯ sounding intonation.

How Late is Late in Acquisition? Evidence from a Mexican Indigenous Language
Vianey Varela, University of Alberta

One remarkable characteristic of Upper Necaxa Totonac (UNT), a polysynthetic language spoken in northern central Mexico, is the way it expresses location. The preferred adult Locative Constructions (LCs) include three strategies in a single sentence: i) an adposition, ii) a posture verb, and iii) a body part term. Although previous studies claim children acquire LCs early (ages 2 to 3;06), the analysis of our data indicated that the adult-like LCs appear constantly at the age of 8. Previous to this period, children use only one strategy and they slowly incorporate the rest in a single sentence. These results indicate that the acquisition route in UNT is guided by both, the semantic and morphosyntactic specificity of the LCs; as children have to process more linguistic material, the acquisition occurs late in the development.

Acquisition of Scalar Implicatures: When Some of the Crayons Will do the Job
Anna Verbuk, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

On the Neo-Gricean view of scalar implicatures (SIs), hearers compute SIs on the basis of Gricean reasoning. In contexts where only the weaker scalar item is relevant, an SI is not generated (Horn 1984). On Chierchia¡¯s (2004) Semantic account, SIs are default inferences; the Semantic account overgenerates SIs. My experiment tested between these accounts, and the results provided evidence for the Neo-Gricean account.
Relevance is construed as Relevance to the question-under-discussion (Roberts 1996).
H1: Children compute SIs only when they are relevant.
H2: Children do equally well on computing SIs based both on Horn and pragmatic scales.
Subjects: 20 English-speaking children (5;11-7;7).
H1: Significant differences were found between the groups that got relevant vs. those that got irrelevant scenarios. Children went through two stages:
Stage one: children do not compute any SIs.
Stage two: children compute only SIs that are relevant to the QUD.
H2 was supported; F(1,18)=2.9, p<.1.