The retreat from locative overgeneralisation errors: A novel verb grammaticality judgment study
Bidgood, A., Ambridge, B., Pine, J. M., & Rowland, C. F.
The retreat from locative overgeneralisation errors: A novel verb grammaticality judgment study. PLoS One, 9
(5): e97634. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097634.
Whilst some locative verbs alternate between the ground- and figure-locative constructions (e.g. Lisa sprayed the flowers with water/Lisa sprayed water onto the flowers), others are restricted to one construction or the other (e.g. *Lisa filled water into the cup/*Lisa poured the cup with water). The present study investigated two proposals for how learners (aged 5–6, 9–10 and adults) acquire this restriction, using a novel-verb-learning grammaticality-judgment paradigm. In support of the semantic verb class hypothesis, participants in all age groups used the semantic properties of novel verbs to determine the locative constructions (ground/figure/both) in which they could and could not appear. In support of the frequency hypothesis, participants' tolerance of overgeneralisation errors decreased with each increasing level of verb frequency (novel/low/high). These results underline the need to develop an integrated account of the roles of semantics and frequency in the retreat from argument structure overgeneralisation.