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Language, Mind, and Brain by Ewa Dabrowska Chapter 9: Syntactic constructions, pt. 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Language, Mind, and Brain by Ewa Dabrowska Chapter 9: Syntactic constructions, pt. 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Language, Mind, and Brain by Ewa Dabrowska Chapter 9: Syntactic constructions, pt. 1

2 Is syntax like morphology? Q: What kinds of points is Dabrowska going to make that parallel morphology?

3 Is syntax like morphology? Q: What kinds of points is Dabrowska going to make that parallel morphology? A: –the same mental mechanism can account for both regular and irregular constructions –speakers extract patterns at varying degrees of abstraction –associative memory plays a prominent role

4 1. Ties between lexical and grammatical knowledge Q: How can we account for these facts? –Very strong statistical correlation between vocabulary size and grammatical complexity mastered by young children; age was not statistically a predictor –Equally strong correlation between lexicon and grammar in impairment

5 1. Ties between lexical and grammatical knowledge Q: How can we account for these facts? –Very strong statistical correlation between vocabulary size and grammatical complexity mastered by young children; age was not statistically a predictor –Equally strong correlation between lexicon and grammar in impairment A: People use “chunks” – form-meaning pairings that combine lexical items and grammatical constructions

6 2. Multi-word units in acquisition Q: What is “premature usage”?

7 2. Multi-word units in acquisition Q: What is “premature usage”? A: Children often use chunks containing grammatical morphemes long before they use the morphemes in novel utterances.

8 Q: What is a “developmental U-curve”?

9 A: Early limited correct usage of a form followed by absence or incorrect usage, later followed by reliable use in a range of situations. E.g. What’s this? (chunk!) > What this is? > What is this?

10 2.3 Inappropriate and ungrammatical usage Q: Is it true that children’s errors result from faulty abstract rules?

11 2.3 Inappropriate and ungrammatical usage Q: Is it true that children’s errors result from faulty abstract rules? A: Not necessarily. They can also arise from inappropriate combination of chunks.

12 2.4 Pronoun reversals Q: What is a “pronoun reversal”? What theories are there about them and what does the author suggest?

13 2.4 Pronoun reversals Q: What is a “pronoun reversal”? What theories are there about them and what does the author suggest? A: Children use “you” to refer to themselves. It is theorized that they don’t understand deixis. But maybe they are just echoing what they heard said to them!

14 2.5 Filler syllables Q: What are filler syllables, and what do they indicate?

15 2.5 Filler syllables Q: What are filler syllables, and what do they indicate? Filler syllables are underspecified unstressed syllables (schwa &/or nasal). They indicate that children are working with a phrase- level structure, not word- level, gradually filling in larger patterns.

16 2.6 Lexically based patterns Q: Tomasello is famous for the “verb-island hypothesis”. Can you guess what it is?

17 2.6 Lexically based patterns Q: Tomasello is famous for the “verb-island hypothesis”. Can you guess what it is? A: A theory that children don’t form rules for constructions of verbs, but rather use lexically specific chunks, like: X fall down, ride X, X gave Y Z

18 Michael Tomasello’s webpage:

19 2.6 Lexically based patterns Q: How much of children’s speech shows evidence of lexical patterning and when do children gain competence to produce syntactic patterns with novel verbs?

20 2.6 Lexically based patterns Q: How much of children’s speech shows evidence of lexical patterning and when do children gain competence to produce syntactic patterns with novel verbs? A: In children up to 3yrs 60% is lexical formulas and 30% is frozen phrases. Children don’t succeed in reliably forming new transitive constructions until age 8.

21 2.7 “Mosaic” acquisition Q: What is Chomsky’s claim about acquisition?

22 2.7 “Mosaic” acquisition Q: What is Chomsky’s claim about acquisition? A: That once a rule is learned, it is applied in all contexts. But is this true? This is not corroborated by research.

23 2.7 “Mosaic” acquisition Q: What is “mosaic” acquisition?

24 2.7 “Mosaic” acquisition Q: What is “mosaic” acquisition? A: Piecemeal, gradual, probabilistic (not rule-governed), often lexically-specific acquisition of grammatical features and the range of their application.


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