From states to events: The acquisition of English passive participles

Citation
M. Israel et al., From states to events: The acquisition of English passive participles, COGN LINGUI, 11(1-2), 2000, pp. 103-129
Citations number
35
Language
INGLESE
art.tipo
Article
Categorie Soggetti
Language & Linguistics
Journal title
COGNITIVE LINGUISTICS
ISSN journal
0936-5907 → ACNP
Volume
11
Issue
1-2
Year of publication
2000
Pages
103 - 129
Database
ISI
SICI code
0936-5907(2000)11:1-2<103:FSTETA>2.0.ZU;2-6
Abstract
In this paper we examine the development of passive participles in the spon taneous speech of seven English speaking children. We argue that the gramma tical properties which distinguish passive participles as a category emerge gradually and are learned as motivated properties of a complex, polysemous construction. The data reveals a regular progression from early adjectival uses to true verbal passives, in which the participle itself denotes a dyn amic event. This process follows a consistent pattern, whereby children gra dually extend the use of participles to equivocal contexts that are compati ble with either a stative or an eventive reading. All seven children regula rly use participles in equivocal contexts before they begin to master true verbal passives. This development is analyzed as an instance of constructio nal grounding, a process whereby certain uses of a relatively simple source construction provide the basis for children's initial hypotheses about a m ore difficult target construction. More generally, the gradual progression from adjectival to verbal passives suggests how syntactic categories and gr ammatical constructions can be learned gradually on the basis of earlier, s impler structures.