The semantic basis of grammatical development

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This chapter reviews semantic bias observed in the acquisition of grammatical categories, and examines its theoretical implications. It first reviews the acquisition of tense-aspect morphology, in particular of English, and proposes a model of grammatical development called the “input-based prototype formation”, taking examples from cross-linguistic data. I will then discuss semantic bias observed in the acquisition of pronominal case in English, conditionals in Japanese and Korean, causative morphology in Japanese, nominative case omission in Japanese and Korean, and relative clause construction in Japanese. Based on the review, I will argue against modularity and the innateness hypothesis, which constitutes the fundamental assumptions espoused by generative grammar, and argue for further analysis of semantic bias in frequency distribution in the input language that children are exposed to.


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