This syntactic priming study investigated semantic and lexical factors in 3- and 4-year-olds’ passives: early use of the English passive is argued to be semantically constrained to action verbs (Maratsos et al 1985) and young children apparently perform better with get- than be-passives (Harris & Flora 1982). Experiment 1 found a reliable priming effect of Structure (active – passive) on passive responses, but no effect of Verb-Type (actional – non-actional) suggesting that by 4, children do have an abstract passive representation that does not appear to be constrained by verb semantics. Experiment 2 confirmed a reliable priming effect from get- as well as be-passives. Priming from be- to get-passives suggests this effect did not arise solely from lexical priming of the auxiliary but that 4-yearolds have a common representation underlying both passives, though the absence of priming in the opposite direction suggests the passive may be acquired with get earlier than with be.
|Title of host publication||Proceedings of the 32nd annual Boston University conference on language development|
|Editors||Harvey Chan, Heather Jacob, Enkeleida Kapia|
|Place of Publication||Somerville, MA|
|Number of pages||12|
|Publication status||Published - Apr 2008|
|Event||32nd Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development - Boston, United States|
Duration: 2 Nov 2007 → 4 Nov 2007
Conference number: 32
|Name||BUCLD: Proceedings of the Boston University Conference on Language Development|
|Conference||32nd Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development|
|Abbreviated title||BUCLD 32|
|Period||2/11/07 → 4/11/07|
Messenger, K., Branigan, H. P., McLean, J. F., & Sorace, A. (2008). English-speaking children's early passives: evidence from syntactic priming. In H. Chan, H. Jacob, & E. Kapia (Eds.), Proceedings of the 32nd annual Boston University conference on language development (Vol. 1, pp. 275-286). (BUCLD: Proceedings of the Boston University Conference on Language Development; Vol. 32). Cascadilla Press.