Constructing ‘basic’ verbal constructions

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In this study, the development of verb constructions in young French speaking children is analyzed by focusing on spontaneous language data from three children of the <i>Paris corpus</i> (Leonard, Madeleine, Th&#233;ophile) age 1;06 up to 3;06. The focus of the work is on six specific verbs which are quite frequent in young child speech and which clearly present different patterns of verbal constructions. Despite the differences between the verbal constructions analysed, the development of verbal constructions in young children follows a similar pattern. Some specific verb constructions are learned first and used in a highly frequent pattern. They belong to a specific subset: the most &#8216;simple&#8217; constructions that can be produced with these verbs. Other constructions appear infrequently and much later. They form a more productive part of children&#8217;s language, although they do not seem to be the most frequent mode for spontaneous production. This opposition between frequent construction and unusual production is probably a key to understand children&#8217;s language development, as it offers them both a way to enter quickly and efficiently into language, and a way to be more &#8220;creative&#8221; and produce their own forms.


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