Bootstrapping where? Location changes disrupt intransitive verb mapping


  • Kaitlyn Harrigan William & Mary
  • Monica Bagnoli William & Mary



verb learning, syntactic bootstrapping, language acquisition


Children utilize a range of cues in verb learning. The current studies explore children’s weighting of two different cues for verb-meaning: number of syntactic arguments and event location. Naigles (1990) demonstrated that children use syntactic bootstrapping in mapping transitive and intransitive verbs—they hypothesize that intransitive verbs refer to one-participant events and transitive verbs refer to two-participant events. Previous work also indicates that children are sensitive to the location that an event took place when they are learning new verbs. The current study builds on this work, exploring the role of location changes in mapping new transitive and intransitive verbs. We find that children robustly link transitive verbs to two-person events but are weaker overall weaker linking intransitive verbs to one-person events. Children are, however, less likely to link intransitive verbs to one-person events when the event location has changed, suggesting that they are influenced by background changes when interpreting intransitive verbs.




How to Cite

Harrigan, Kaitlyn, and Monica Bagnoli. 2023. “Bootstrapping Where? Location Changes Disrupt Intransitive Verb Mapping”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 8 (1): 5540.