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Language, Mind, and Brain by Ewa Dabrowska Chapter 9: Syntactic constructions, pt. 2 3. A case study: questions Q: Why is the acquisition of questions a good choice for a case study? 3. A case study: questions Q: Why is the acquisition of questions a good choice for a case study?

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language mind and brain by ewa dabrowska

Language, Mind, and Brainby Ewa Dabrowska

Chapter 9: Syntactic constructions, pt. 2

3 a case study questions
3. A case study: questions
  • Q: Why is the acquisition of questions a good choice for a case study?
3 a case study questions3
3. A case study: questions
  • Q: Why is the acquisition of questions a good choice for a case study?
  • A: It can show us whether children are acquiring rules or using lexical patterns. There are just two rules involved (WH-fronting, subj-vb inversion), and they have received a lot of attention in theoretical literature.
3 1 early interrogative utterances
3.1 Early interrogative utterances
  • Q: What does the data on questions of 2 year olds show?
3 1 early interrogative utterances5
3.1 Early interrogative utterances
  • Q: What does the data on questions of 2 year olds show?
  • A: The vast majority of questions are either fixed phrases or formulaic (frame with slot). Also, ability to create non-formulaic questions correlates with MLU.
3 2 from formula to schema
3.2 From formula to schema
  • Q: What does the longitudinal data suggest?
3 2 from formula to schema7
3.2 From formula to schema
  • Q: What does the longitudinal data suggest?
  • A: Well, different children acquired different formulas and in different orders, but overall development proceeds from fixed phrases through formulaic frames to more abstract patterns. This progress is gradual and incremental.
3 3 where do non formulaic utterances come from
3.3 Where do “non-formulaic” utterances come from?
  • Q: What do we know about children’s “non-formulaic” questions?
3 3 where do non formulaic utterances come from9
3.3 Where do “non-formulaic” utterances come from?
  • Q: What do we know about children’s “non-formulaic” questions?
  • A: They are rare. The vast majority contain errors, and those errors are unsystematic, indicating one-off formations. There are a very few that are correct and creative, but can involve insertion of an item into a slot of a more abstract pattern.
3 4 evidence for piecemeal learning
3.4 Evidence for piecemeal learning
  • Q: How do Y/N questions with aux do show evidence for piecemeal learning?
3 4 evidence for piecemeal learning11
3.4 Evidence for piecemeal learning
  • Q: How do Y/N questions with do show evidence for piecemeal learning?
  • A: Do you VP? is acquired earlier, accounts for more of the input, and is slow to generalize to other subjects. Some children (Sarah) seem to drop the do (often contracted in input). For other aux, Can I VP? accounts for most of the data.
3 4 evidence for piecemeal learning12
3.4 Evidence for piecemeal learning
  • Contraction and Errors – These both give evidence of piecemeal learning too:
    • The patterns for segmenting (analyzing) who’s is different from what’s and where’s
    • Errors of commission are rare and show lexically specific patterns
3 5 questions with long distance dependencies
3.5 Questions with long-distance dependencies
  • Q: How do LDDs give evidence for piecemeal learning?
3 5 questions with long distance dependencies14
3.5 Questions with long-distance dependencies
  • Q: How do LDDs give evidence for piecemeal learning?
  • A: Once again we see lots of formulas, even in adult speech. Almost all LDDs amount to …do you think(say)…?
3 6 conclusion
3.6 Conclusion
  • Q: So what does empirical data tell us about the acquisition of questions?
3 6 conclusion16
3.6 Conclusion
  • Q: So what does empirical data tell us about the acquisition of questions?
  • A: It does not support use of rules or innate UG. Learning proceeds from invariant formulas through general formulaic frames to abstract templates. Learning is gradual, not abrupt. Templates make it possible to learn questions without performing syntactic movement or having syntactic structure distinct from surface structure.
3 6 conclusion17
3.6 Conclusion
  • Q: So what does a grammar need to have?
3 6 conclusion18
3.6 Conclusion
  • Q: So what does a grammar need to have?
  • A: Speakers need to know what items go in what slots, and the relationships between slots. These need to be psychologically realistic.