Dynamic event words, motion events and the transition to verb meanings
The purpose of this research was to examine evidence for the proposal that dynamic event expressions (relational words in English) in the single word period are based on sensorimotor cognition and the development of mental representation, and serve as a cognitive/semantic bootstrap to verb meaning and initial word combinations. Motion event semantics provided a framework for consideration of single dynamic event expressions in relation to first verbs used in sentences. Three English-speaking children were video-recorded monthly from 14 to 24 months, and their use of predicates expressing dynamic action in single and multi-word utterances (both relational words and verbs) was examined. Findings were that: first, relational word use precedes the generalized use of any verbs; second, when verbs are initially used, primal verbs, defined both by their universal early occurrence and their relation to the motion event situation, dominate; and third, combinations that include a relational word, a primal verb or both constitute the majority of the earliest combinations. These results support the proposal that dynamic event expressions serve as a bootstrap in the transition to verb use and word combinations.
KeywordsCoherence Tray Metaphor Shoe Cote
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