Argument Structure Preferences in Pre-School and School-Age Children*
Study of the acquisition of verb argument structure is an area that has seen considerable growth in recent years, particularly since the appearance of Pinker’s (1989) study of the acquisition of argument structure alternations (see e.g., Brinkman, 1995;Gropen et al., 1989;Gropen et al., 1991;Ingham, 1990,Ingham, 1993/4; Naigles, 1990). In this paper we wish to investigate a relatively less studied aspect of argument structure in children’s language. Although some light has been cast on constraints that underlie argument structure alternations, and the lexical representations involved in argument structure alternations that can be ascribed to children, not much is known about how argument structure typically develops in use between the pre-school and early school years, and whether certain argument structure realisations are more typical of certain stages of development than others. Our intention in this paper is to investigate this issue, focusing on a few of the better studied argument structure types, especially those involving what can loosely be called location events, in which an entity moves or is moved to another location.
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