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Semantic approximation of action verbs in German language acquisition

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Anne Rohr
Karine Duvignau
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Abstract

The present study investigates the German verb production of children from 3 to 6 years old in comparison to normal adults in two speech production situations : spontaneous speech and a verb naming task using short videos. The linguistic analysis of the spontaneous speech productions shows that children's and adult's categorization of actions are different in their way of dealing with semantic boundaries. Child productions as "you are making a fire in the chimney to cook (instead of "burn") the wood" illustrate more flexible semantic domains than those observed in adult language production. As a result of this analysis emerges the concept of "semantic approximation". This notion defines verb productions (e.g. "undress the orange") which are sharing generic semantic features while containing semantic or pragmatic tension regarding the target (e.g. "peel the orange"). The second part of the study focuses on the development of semantic approximations during the acquisition of the verbal lexicon. The results of the video verb naming task show that the semantic approximations as a component of young children's verb production, is decreasing with age. Moreover, our results suggest that the organization of the verbal lexicon includes semantic intra-domain as well as inter-domain proximity.
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Dates and versions

hal-00961571 , version 1 (20-03-2014)

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  • HAL Id : hal-00961571 , version 1

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Anne Rohr, Karine Duvignau. Semantic approximation of action verbs in German language acquisition. 6th International Workshop on Language Production, Sep 2010, Edimbourg, United Kingdom. ⟨hal-00961571⟩
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