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Learning how to use verbs: lexical coding and the influence of the input*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2008


Jill G. De Villiers
Affiliation:
Smith College

Abstract

Samples of spontaneous speech from two young children and their mothers were analysed to examine how children learn some of the inflectional/syntactic possibilities for individual verbs. Multiple regression analyses were performed to establish predictors of the children's range of grammatical use of particular verbs. Maternal variety of use proved to be a highly significant predictor of the children's use of the same verbs, but maternal frequency was not a significant predictor of children's use. Step-wise regression analyses revealed that each child's own mother's use was a significantly better predictor of the child's use than that of the unacquainted mother. It is argued that the children were monitoring the grammatical patterns of use of individual verbs in the input they received. The extent of novel use of verbs by the child cannot be assessed from these data, and awaits further experimental investigation.


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Articles
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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1985

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