Swimming in the desert? The role of environment in motion verb acquisition


  • Alice Benjamin William & Mary
  • Kaitlyn Harrigan William & Mary




verb learning, motion verbs, language acquisition


Any event includes countless components, giving the learner many possible options in mapping verb meanings. Previous research demonstrates that children are sensitive to the distribution of motion verbs in their language, mapping ambiguous verb-event pairings to manner if their language has more manner verbs, like English, and path if their language has more path verbs, like Spanish. Previous work also demonstrates that children have some sensitivity visual components, such an event’s location, when they are learning motion verbs. Our study explores how the learner weighs components of visual scene against the distributional factors present in their language. Like previous studies, we find that English-learning children are better at encoding manner than path information. Additionally, we build on previous work on motion verb acquisition, showing that children are differentially influenced by different kinds of background environments.




How to Cite

Benjamin, Alice, and Kaitlyn Harrigan. 2023. “Swimming in the Desert? The Role of Environment in Motion Verb Acquisition”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 8 (1): 5543. https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v8i1.5543.