Static and dynamic location in French

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Cross-linguistic research has renewed old questions concerning universal vs. language-specific determinants of child language. Our experiments show differences in how French vs. English speakers from three years on talk about static and dynamic spatial entities. In English frequent satellites encode static spatial relations or path, verb roots focus on posture or manner. French verbs express varied information about location or caused motion (entity properties, manner of attachment, functional disposition) and focus on path with spontaneous motion. Developmental progressions occur in both languages, but most strikingly in French, where children increasingly rely on verbs and combine them with other devices in denser utterances. The discussion highlights how such variations in information locus and focus may affect language and cognitive development.


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