Can children use similarity between actions to learn grammar?

Fiona Anning


The present study was a replication and extension of Casenhiser and Goldberg (2005). Children aged 5;0 to 7;6 were assigned to one of two training conditions, either they were only taught novel verbs in a novel construction paired with appearance scenes or they were additionally trained on novel verbs in the transitive construction. All participants were assessed on both word orders with new novel verbs using a forced-choice comprehension test. The children in both conditions performed significantly worse on the appearance items than the causative trials, which fails to replicate the original study. The translation post-test responses suggest that poor performance on the appearance test trials was due to the children’s inability to understand the meaning of the individual verbs.

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