Cognition and Motion-Event Semantics: A Basis for Single and Multiple Word Predicates
Lorraine McCune (Rutgers University, USA)
Do children’s single words related to motion and change also encode aspects of environmental events highlighted by Talmy’s motion event analysis? If so, these meanings may affect children’s early use of verbs. Analyzing the kinds of meanings expressed in Event words through motion event semantics yields links between early true verbs and the prior semantics of single Event words. We traced 5 children’s development of dynamic language, beginning with their earliest single Event words until the use of verbs in multiword utterances was established. Event words (e.g., more, allgone, out, down) reflect the sense of temporal and spatial reversibility established in the late sensorimotor period. We find that meanings of the earliest verbs partake of the simple cognitively based motion event semantics of the earlier single word Event expressions. Rather than having a basis in prior cognitive categories, Event words emerge in interaction between cognition and the ambient language.