Crosslinguistic Perspectives on Argument Structure: Implications for Learnability (Hardback) book cover

Crosslinguistic Perspectives on Argument Structure

Implications for Learnability

Edited by Melissa Bowerman, Penelope Brown

© 2008 – Routledge

588 pages

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This book offers a unique interdisciplinary perspective on argument structure and its role in language acquisition. Drawing on a broad range of crosslinguistic data, this volume shows that languages are much more diverse in their argument structure properties than has been realized.

The volume is the outcome of an integrated research project and comprises chapters by both specialists in first language acquisition and field linguists working on a variety of lesser-known languages. The research draws on original fieldwork and on adult data, child data, or both from seventeen languages from eleven different language families. Some chapters offer typological perspectives, examining the basic structures of a given language with language-learnability issues in mind. Other chapters investigate specific problems of language acquisition in one or more languages. Taken as a whole, the volume illustrates how detailed work on crosslinguistic variation is critical to the development of insightful theories of language acquisition.

Crosslinguistic Perspectives on Argument Structure integrates important contemporary issues in linguistics and language acquisition.


"The book makes a wonderful read, its educational value is immense

and the labor invested in it has been worth every minute."

-Elena Tarasheva, LINGUIST LIST

Table of Contents

Contents: M. Bowerman, P. Brown, Introduction. Part I: Verb Meaning and Verb Syntax: Cross-Linguistic Puzzles for Language Learners. E. Danziger, A Person, a Place, or a Thing? Whorfian Consequences of Syntactic Bootstrapping in Mopan Maya. J. Bohnemeyer, The Pitfalls of Getting From Here to There: Bootstrapping the Syntax and Semantics of Motion Event Coding inYukatek Mayan. E. Schultze-Berndt, Making Sense of Complex Verbs: On the Semantics and Argument Structure of Closed-Class Verbs and Coverbs in Jaminjung. S. Kita, Figure-Ground Indeterminacy in Descriptions of Spatial Relations: A Construction Grammar Account. A. Margetts, Learning Verbs Without Boots and Straps? The Problem of ‘Give’ in Saliba. Part II: Participants Present and Absent: Argument Ellipsis and Verb Learning. D. Wilkins, Learning ‘Put’ and ‘Look’ in Arrernte. P. Brown, Verb Specificity and Argument Realization in Tzeltal Child Language. S. Allen, Interacting Pragmatic Influences on Children’s Argument Realization. Part III: Transitivity, Intransitivity, and Their Associated Meanings: A Complex Work-Space for Learnability. J. Essegbey, Intransitive Verbs in Ewe and the Unaccusativity Hypothesis. F. Ameka, He Died Old Dying to Be Dead Right: Transitivity and Semantic Shifts of ‘Die’ in Ewe in Crosslinguistic Perspective. A. van Hout, Acquiring Telicity Cross-Linguistically: On the Acquisition of Telicity Entailments Associated With Transitivity. M. Bowerman, W. Croft, The Acquisition of the English Causative Alternation. A. Wittek, “…and the Prince Woke Sleeping Beauty Again.” What Adverbs Have to Do With Learning the Meaning of Verbs. E. Pederson, Event Realization in Tamil.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General