Constructions and their acquisition: Islands and the distinctiveness of their occupancy
- Authors: Nick C. Ellis 1 ; Fernando Ferreira-Junior 2
- Source: Annual Review of Cognitive Linguistics, Volume 7, Issue 1, 2009 , pages 188 –221
This paper presents a psycholinguistic analysis of constructions and their acquisition. It investigates effects upon naturalistic second language acquisition of type/token distributions in the islands comprising the linguistic form of English verb-argument constructions (VACs: VL verb locative, VOL verb object locative, VOO ditransitive) in the ESF corpus (Perdue, 1993). Goldberg (2006) argued that Zipfian type/token frequency distribution of verbs in natural language might optimize construction learning by providing one very high frequency exemplar that is also prototypical in meaning. Ellis & Ferreira-Junior (2009) confirmed that in the naturalistic L2A of English, VAC verb type/token distribution in the input is Zipfian and learners first acquire the most frequent, prototypical and generic exemplar (e.g. put in VOL, give in VOO, etc.). This paper further illustrates how acquisition is affected by the frequency and frequency distribution of exemplars within each island of the construction (e.g. [Subj V Obj Oblpath/loc]), by their prototypicality, and, using a variety of psychological and corpus linguistic association metrics, by their contingency of form-function mapping.
Affiliations: 1: University of Michigan; 2: Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil