Title: VP Ellipsis in English Language Acquisition
Claire Foley, Barbara Lust
Lab (s) Name (s)
Cornell Language Acquisition Lab
GENERAL PROJECT DESCRIPTION
A series of experiments are being conducted to test young children’s (2 to 8 years of age) knowledge of the syntax and semantics involved in VP Ellipsis structures like, “Bert licked his ice cream and Ernie did too”. Both production and comprehension data are being collected and analyzed from early periods of development, as well as from an adult control group.
PURPOSES OF THE PROJECT
The purposes of the project are to test several questions and related hypotheses regarding children’s linguistic competence necessary for the computation in these structures.
How young to children control such structures? Do children know the ambiguity of meaning they involve? Do children obey the grammatical constraints against impossible interpretations in these structures? To what degree does a theory of Universal Grammar account for children’s developmental pattern? Can a new theory of the linguistic representation of VP ellipsis be derived from the acquisition results? Do verb inflection errors explicate the child’s structural computation?
RATIONALE AND AGENDA
CURRENT STATUS OF PROJECT
Foley, C., Nunez del Prado, Z., Barbier, I., & Lust, B. (2003). Knowledge of Variable Binding in VP Ellipsis: Language Acquisition Research and Theory Converge. Syntax, 6, no. 1, 52-83.
Foley, C., Lust, B., Battin, D., Koehne, A., & White, K. (2000). On the Acquisition of an Indefinite Determiner: Evidence for Unselective Binding. In C. Howell, Fish, S., & T. Keith-Lucas (Eds.), BUCLD, 24, Proceedings, pp. 287-298. Cascadilla Press.
Guo, F., Foley, C., Chien, Y-C., Chiang, C-P., & Lust, B. (1997). A Cross-linguistic Study of Chinese and English Children’s First Language Acquisition of VP Ellipsis Structures. In Somashekar, S. et al., (Eds.), Papers on Language Acquisition: Cornell Working Papers in Linguistics, Vol. 15, pp. 20-38. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, Department of Linguistics.
Postman, W., Foley, C., Santelmann, L., & Lust, B. (1997). Evidence for Strong Continuity: New Experimental Results of Children’s Acquisition of VP Ellipsis and Bound Variable Structures. In MIT Working Papers in Linguistics: Proceedings of the 8th Student Conference in Linguistics, pp. 327-344, New York University. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.