Verb argument structure overgeneralisations for the English intransitive and transitive constructions: Grammaticality judgments and production priming
Bidgood, A., Pine, J., Rowland, C. F., Sala, G., Freudenthal, D., & Ambridge, B.
Verb argument structure overgeneralisations for the English intransitive and transitive constructions: Grammaticality judgments and production priming. Language and Cognition, 13
(3), 397-437. doi:10.1017/langcog.2021.8.
We used a multi-method approach to investigate how children avoid (or retreat from) argument structure overgeneralisation errors (e.g., *You giggled me). Experiment 1 investigated how semantic and statistical constraints (preemption and entrenchment) influence children’s and adults’ judgments of the grammatical acceptability of 120 verbs in transitive and intransitive sentences. Experiment 2 used syntactic priming to elicit overgeneralisation errors from children (aged 5–6) to investigate whether the same constraints operate in production. For judgments, the data showed effects of preemption, entrenchment, and semantics for all ages. For production, only an effect of preemption was observed, and only for transitivisation errors with intransitive-only verbs (e.g., *The man laughed the girl). We conclude that preemption, entrenchment, and semantic effects are real, but are obscured by particular features of the present production task.