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L1 ACQUISITION OF JAPANESE VERB ARGUMENT STRUCTURE: HOW DO CHILDREN ACQUIRE GRAMMAR IN THE ABSENCE OF CLEAR EVIDENCE?

Tanaka, Nozomi (2011) L1 ACQUISITION OF JAPANESE VERB ARGUMENT STRUCTURE: HOW DO CHILDREN ACQUIRE GRAMMAR IN THE ABSENCE OF CLEAR EVIDENCE? Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh.

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    Abstract

    The Japanese language allows flexible word order (Shibatani, 1990) and allows missing noun constituents (Shibatani, 1990). The case-marking is realized with postpositional particles, e.g. the subject marker —ga and the direct object marker -o. However, these case markers are often omitted (Aida, 1993; Miyata, 2008; Rispoli, 1989). While Bates and MacWhinney (1989) and Sasaki and MacWhinney (2006) view case marking as the strongest cue in Japanese and animacy contrast as the second reliable cue, Ito, Tahara, and Park (1993) and Rispoli (1987) claim that Japanese children produce case markers with errors because they do not process them. It has not been clear how Japanese children acquire verb argument structure when there is little structural information in their input. The current study aims to account for first language acquisition of Japanese verb argument structure by means of corpus analysis. We hypothesize that, while case markers are often omitted, both mothers' production and children's production initially follow the canonical pattern where the word order cue and the animacy contrast cue form a coalition (Bates & MacWhinney, 1989; Sasaki & MacWhinney, 2006), which aids children to identify the grammatical relations of the verb arguments. The results indicated that the coalition we proposed is reliable information when the two nouns were realized. While both mothers and children produced the non-canonical form frequently even at the earliest age contrary to our prediction, children start from the canonical vs. non-canonical ratio that is similar to the maternal speech and then develop their own distribution as they get older. Moreover, we suggest that animacy contrast cue in Japanese is more important for children than it has been suggested in the past. The animacy contrast is almost always present in the utterances and it is the information the speakers and the listeners use to specify the grammatical relations of the noun arguments when the sentence involves the reordering of the constituents or includes only one noun. On the other hand, the case-marking cue only appeared in a redundant context, which makes it hard for Japanese children to acquire case-marking.


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    Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
    ETD Committee:
    ETD Committee TypeCommittee MemberEmailORCID
    Committee ChairShirai, Yasuhiroyshirai@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberMacWhinney, Brianmacw@cmu.edu
    Committee MemberHan, Na-Raenaraehan@pitt.edu
    Title: L1 ACQUISITION OF JAPANESE VERB ARGUMENT STRUCTURE: HOW DO CHILDREN ACQUIRE GRAMMAR IN THE ABSENCE OF CLEAR EVIDENCE?
    Status: Unpublished
    Abstract: The Japanese language allows flexible word order (Shibatani, 1990) and allows missing noun constituents (Shibatani, 1990). The case-marking is realized with postpositional particles, e.g. the subject marker —ga and the direct object marker -o. However, these case markers are often omitted (Aida, 1993; Miyata, 2008; Rispoli, 1989). While Bates and MacWhinney (1989) and Sasaki and MacWhinney (2006) view case marking as the strongest cue in Japanese and animacy contrast as the second reliable cue, Ito, Tahara, and Park (1993) and Rispoli (1987) claim that Japanese children produce case markers with errors because they do not process them. It has not been clear how Japanese children acquire verb argument structure when there is little structural information in their input. The current study aims to account for first language acquisition of Japanese verb argument structure by means of corpus analysis. We hypothesize that, while case markers are often omitted, both mothers' production and children's production initially follow the canonical pattern where the word order cue and the animacy contrast cue form a coalition (Bates & MacWhinney, 1989; Sasaki & MacWhinney, 2006), which aids children to identify the grammatical relations of the verb arguments. The results indicated that the coalition we proposed is reliable information when the two nouns were realized. While both mothers and children produced the non-canonical form frequently even at the earliest age contrary to our prediction, children start from the canonical vs. non-canonical ratio that is similar to the maternal speech and then develop their own distribution as they get older. Moreover, we suggest that animacy contrast cue in Japanese is more important for children than it has been suggested in the past. The animacy contrast is almost always present in the utterances and it is the information the speakers and the listeners use to specify the grammatical relations of the noun arguments when the sentence involves the reordering of the constituents or includes only one noun. On the other hand, the case-marking cue only appeared in a redundant context, which makes it hard for Japanese children to acquire case-marking.
    Date: 06 June 2011
    Date Type: Completion
    Defense Date: 15 April 2011
    Approval Date: 06 June 2011
    Submission Date: 22 April 2011
    Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
    Patent pending: No
    Institution: University of Pittsburgh
    Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
    Refereed: Yes
    Degree: MA - Master of Arts
    URN: etd-04222011-110117
    Uncontrolled Keywords: animacy; case marking; corpus analysis; first language acquisition; Japanese; L1 acquisition; the Competition Model; verb argument structure; word order
    Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Linguistics
    Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 14:41
    Last Modified: 30 May 2012 13:16
    Other ID: http://etd.library.pitt.edu/ETD/available/etd-04222011-110117/, etd-04222011-110117

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