Most research on children's lexical development has focused on their acquisition of names for concrete objects. This is the first edited volume to focus specifically on how children acquire their early verbs. Verbs are an especially important part of the early lexicon because of the role they play in children's emerging grammatical competence. The contributors to this book investigate:
* children's earliest words for actions and events and the cognitive structures that might underlie them,
* the possibility that the basic principles of word learning which apply in the case of nouns might also apply in the case of verbs, and
the role of linguistic context, especially argument structure, in the acquisition of verbs.
A central theme in many of the chapters is the comparison of the processes of noun and verb learning. Several contributors make provocative suggestions for constructing theories of lexical development that encompass the full range of lexical items that children learn and use.
"…a welcome look at the problem of first language verb-learning in young children….the papers cogently spell out the complexity of the verb-learner's problem and the variety of processes required to solve it. A number of interesting, counterintuitive, and often controversial claims emerge….there is a good deal of thematic coherence among subsets of the chapters, which makes reading all the more interesting by pointing out key issues and discrepant claims….a timely volume reporting some of the best current work on the problem of verb-learning in children."
—Studies in Second Language Acquisition
"…a stimulating collection of papers which not only provides an accurate reflection of the current state of the field, but also allows the reader to compare directly approaches which are more or less diametrically opposed."
—British Journal of Developmental Psychology
"This book presents many fascinating classic and innovative philosophies and empirical backgrounds designed to focus on longuistic and cognitive peculiarities of verb meaning acquisition."
—American Journal of Psychology
Contents: W.E. Merriman, M. Tomasello, Introduction: Verbs Are Words Too. Part I:Early Words for Action. P. Smiley, J. Huttenlocher, Conceptual Development and the Child's Early Words for Events, Objects, and Persons. A. Gopnik, S. Choi, Names, Relational Words, and Cognitive Development in English and Korean Speakers: Nouns Are Not Always Learned Before Verbs. S.R. Braunwald, Differences in the Acquisition of Early Verbs: Evidence From Diary Data from Sisters. Part II:Basic Principles of Verb Learning. M. Tomasello, Pragmatic Contexts for Early Verb Learning. W.E. Merriman, J. Marazita, L. Jarvis, Children's Disposition to Map New Words Onto New Referents. R.M. Golinkoff, K. Hirsh-Pasek, C.B. Mervis, W.B. Frawley, M. Parillo, Lexical Priciples Can Be Extended to the Acquisition of Verbs. K. Nelson, The Dual Category Problem in the Acquisition of Action Words. D.A. Behrend, Processes Involved in the Initial Mapping of Verb Meanings. Part III:The Role of Argument Structure. A. Lederer, H. Gleitman, L. Gleitman, Verbs of a Feather Flock Together: Semantic Information in the Structure of Maternal Speech. L.G. Naigles, A. Fowler, A. Helm, Syntactic Bootstrapping From Start to Finish With Special Reference to Down Syndrome. M. Rispoli, Missing Arguments and the Acquisition of Predicate Meanings. M.D.S. Braine, P.J. Brooks, Verb Argument Structure and the Problem of Avoiding an Overgeneral Grammar. M. Maratsos, G. Deák, Hedgehogs, Foxes, and the Acquisition of Verb Meaning.