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Acquisition of complementation*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 February 2009

Lois Bloom*
Affiliation:
Teachers College, Columbia University
Matthew Rispoli
Affiliation:
Teachers College, Columbia University
Barbara Gartner
Affiliation:
Teachers College, Columbia University
Jeremie Hafitz
Affiliation:
Teachers College, Columbia University
*
Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027, USA.

Abstract

This study concerns the acquisition of complex sentences with perception and epistemic verbs that take a second verb in their complements. The acquisition of complementation began between two and three years of age in this longitudinal study of four children's spontaneous speech. The results of the study showed that (1) complement types and complementizer connectives and (2) the discourse contexts in which complementation occurred were specific to individual matrix verbs. The most frequent verbs acquired were the perception verbs see and look and the epistemic verbs think and know. Developments in both discourse and syntax indicated that these verbs expressed attitudes of certainty/uncertainty toward the content expressed in their complements. The results are discussed in terms of both linguistic and psychological factors in the acquisition of complex sentences with complementation.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1989

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Footnotes

*

The research reported here was funded by research grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, for which we are grateful. The results of this study were originally presented to the Fifth Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, October 1980. We thank Patsy Lightbown and Lois (Hood) Holzman for their contribution to the study of these children's language development over a period of several years. We owe a particular debt of gratitude to the children – Eric, Gia, Kathryn and Peter – who, although they are now entering their adult years, have always been two-year-olds to us. In their words and the details of that year of their lives, they unwittingly provided us with much to ponder. We thank Richard Beckwith and Margaret Lahey for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript.

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