Diagnosing Participant Number with Syntactic Bootstrapping
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This presentation explores research on event perception and syntactic bootstrapping, discussing how infants connect their understanding of events to language. When hearing sentences, some argue that infants match the number of arguments in the sentence to the number of participants in the event they are observing, but others believe that instead, they connect structural positions in the syntax to thematic roles. To further investigate this, infants were presented with a word-learning task to see if they could learn a novel verb in a two-argument sentence that corresponded to a three-participant event. Currently, research results support thematic linking more than participant argument matching, providing evidence that children possess rich syntactic representations from a young age.