Lise Menn lise.menn at COLORADO.EDU
Wed Apr 26 03:13:13 UTC 2000

The source for 'flip-flops' presumably has to be some point during language
acquisition when the child is trying to solve the problem of how the
participant roles for each verb are encoded.  That's probably very early,
to judge from the fact kids at the 1-word stage are reported as being able
to distinguish whether a picture of transitive asymmetrical action fits
better with 'Big Bird and Oscar are gorping' or 'Big Bird is gorping Oscar'
(Hirsh-Pasek & Golinkoff, Origins of Grammar, 1997).
         A recent Colorado dissertation by Andrea Feldman reports her son's
early use of 'carry' to mean 'ride in someone's arms, be carried by
someone' - e.g. in demanding that he and not his baby sister be carried. So
'Laura carry Daddy' meant that Laura was being carried by their father.
        This fits in  with Jaakko Leino's idea of the salience of the
subject, if for Feldman's child, what was most salient (hence encoded as
subject) was the fortunate child who got to be carried, the beneficiary of
the action.
Lise Menn

Beware Procrustes bearing Occam's razor.

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