Volume 53, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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Traditionally, transitive verbs are divided into two separate classes: obligatory and optional transitives. If no rules or principles are assumed to underly this distinction, when learning this, children must proceed on a verb-by-verb basis. Acquisition data of seven children show that it is very unlikely that children indeed proceed in such a way. I propose a unified analysis of transitivity in which objects are obligatory when the utterance denotes a Specific Event, i.e. a specific instance of the verb. When the utterance does not denote a Specific Event, the object is optional. Object appearance is then governed by lexico-pragmatic principles. I argue that the acquisition data is more easily compatible with the proposed analysis, and that the data show that children distinguish between Specific Events and other cases of verb use with respect to the occurrence of objects.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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