Young children's productivity with word order and verb morphology.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Four studies examined English-speaking children's productivity with word order and verb morphology. Two- and 3-year-olds were taught novel transitive verbs with experimentally controlled argument structures. The younger children neither used nor comprehended word order with these verbs; older children comprehended and used word order correctly to mark agents and patients of the novel verbs. Children as young as 2 years 1 month added -ing but not -ed to verb stems; older children were productive with both inflections. These studies demonstrate that the present progressive inflection is used productively before the regular past tense marker and suggest that productivity with word order may be independent of developments in verb morphology. The findings are discussed in terms of M. Tomasello's (1992a) Verb Island hypothesis and M. Rispoli's (1991) notion of the mosaic acquisition of grammatical relations.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Akhtar, N; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • November 1997

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 33 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 952 - 965

PubMed ID

  • 9383618

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-0599

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0012-1649

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037//0012-1649.33.6.952


  • eng