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What gestures reveal about the development of semantic distinctions in Dutch children's placement verbs

Gullberg, Marianne LU and Narasimhan, Bhuvana (2010) In Cognitive Linguistics 21(2). p.239-262
Abstract
Placement verbs describe every-day events like putting a toy in a box. Dutch uses two semi-obligatory caused posture verbs (leggen ‘lay’ and zetten ‘set/stand’) to distinguish between events based on whether the located object is placed horizontally or vertically. Although prevalent in the input, these verbs cause Dutch children difficulties even at age five (Narasimhan & Gullberg, in press). Children overextend leggen to all placement events and underextend use of zetten. This study examines what gestures can reveal about Dutch three- and five-year-olds’ semantic representations of such verbs. The results show that children gesture differently from adults in this domain. Three-year-olds express only the path of the caused motion,... (More)
Placement verbs describe every-day events like putting a toy in a box. Dutch uses two semi-obligatory caused posture verbs (leggen ‘lay’ and zetten ‘set/stand’) to distinguish between events based on whether the located object is placed horizontally or vertically. Although prevalent in the input, these verbs cause Dutch children difficulties even at age five (Narasimhan & Gullberg, in press). Children overextend leggen to all placement events and underextend use of zetten. This study examines what gestures can reveal about Dutch three- and five-year-olds’ semantic representations of such verbs. The results show that children gesture differently from adults in this domain. Three-year-olds express only the path of the caused motion, whereas five-year-olds, like adults, also incorporate the located object. Crucially, gesture patterns are tied to verb use: those children who over-use leggen 'lay' for all placement events only gesture about path. Conversely, children who use the two verbs differentially for horizontal and vertical placement also incorporate objects in gestures like adults. We argue that children's gestures reflect their current knowledge of verb semantics, and indicate a developmental transition from a system with a single semantic component – (caused) movement – to an (adult-like) focus on two semantic components – (caused) movement-and-object. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
child language acquisition, verb semantics, gesture, Dutch, placement, language development
in
Cognitive Linguistics
volume
21
issue
2
pages
239 - 262
publisher
Mouton de Gruyter
external identifiers
  • wos:000279764800004
  • scopus:77953816846
ISSN
1613-3641
DOI
10.1515/COGL.2010.009
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
e8b85ef0-2834-47a6-8d10-15d9e4ea7f1b (old id 1578847)
date added to LUP
2010-06-02 14:44:15
date last changed
2017-05-14 04:23:10
@article{e8b85ef0-2834-47a6-8d10-15d9e4ea7f1b,
  abstract     = {Placement verbs describe every-day events like putting a toy in a box. Dutch uses two semi-obligatory caused posture verbs (leggen ‘lay’ and zetten ‘set/stand’) to distinguish between events based on whether the located object is placed horizontally or vertically. Although prevalent in the input, these verbs cause Dutch children difficulties even at age five (Narasimhan & Gullberg, in press). Children overextend leggen to all placement events and underextend use of zetten. This study examines what gestures can reveal about Dutch three- and five-year-olds’ semantic representations of such verbs. The results show that children gesture differently from adults in this domain. Three-year-olds express only the path of the caused motion, whereas five-year-olds, like adults, also incorporate the located object. Crucially, gesture patterns are tied to verb use: those children who over-use leggen 'lay' for all placement events only gesture about path. Conversely, children who use the two verbs differentially for horizontal and vertical placement also incorporate objects in gestures like adults. We argue that children's gestures reflect their current knowledge of verb semantics, and indicate a developmental transition from a system with a single semantic component – (caused) movement – to an (adult-like) focus on two semantic components – (caused) movement-and-object.},
  author       = {Gullberg, Marianne and Narasimhan, Bhuvana},
  issn         = {1613-3641},
  keyword      = {child language acquisition,verb semantics,gesture,Dutch,placement,language development},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {239--262},
  publisher    = {Mouton de Gruyter},
  series       = {Cognitive Linguistics},
  title        = {What gestures reveal about the development of semantic distinctions in Dutch children's placement verbs},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/COGL.2010.009},
  volume       = {21},
  year         = {2010},
}