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Laurel Perkins: Verb Learning and Event Representations in Infancy
Join us this Thursday at 4pm to hear our own Laurel Perkins: abstract below.
Meeting ID: 994 1822 3045
Verb Learning and Event Representations in Infancy
Infants use the syntactic distributions of new verbs to draw inferences about the types of events those verbs describe (syntactic bootstrapping: e.g. Gleitman, 1990). To determine how they do this, we need to understand (1) how infants view particular events in the world, independent of language, and (2) how they relate particular sentence representations to those event representations.
In this meeting, I’ll discuss work in collaboration with Angela Xiaoxue He, Tyler Knowlton, Jeff Lidz, and Alexander Williams that aims to diagnose the structure of 10-month-olds’ nonlinguistic event representations. Then, I will discuss a study that investigates how older infants (19-22-month-olds) relate clause arguments to perceived event participants when learning verbs. We ask whether infants primarily expect arguments and participants to match in number, or whether they more flexibly link particular argument and participant relations, e.g. transitive subject to agent and object to patient. Our results suggest that infants privilege the thematic content of clause arguments when drawing inferences about verb meaning, which has implications for how richly they represent grammatical relations early in development.