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      Love is hard to understand: the relationship between transitivity and caused events in the acquisition of emotion verbs.

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          Abstract

          Famously, dog bites man is trivia whereas man bites dog is news. This illustrates not just a fact about the world but about language: to know who did what to whom, we must correctly identify the mapping between semantic role and syntactic position. These mappings are typically predictable, and previous work demonstrates that young children are sensitive to these patterns and so could use them in acquisition. However, there is only limited and mixed evidence that children do use this information to guide acquisition outside of the laboratory. We find that children understand emotion verbs which follow the canonical CAUSE-VERB-PATIENT pattern (Mary frightened/delighted John) earlier than those which do not (Mary feared/liked John), despite the latter's higher frequency, suggesting children's generalization of the mapping between causativity and transitivity is broad and active in acquisition.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          J Child Lang
          Journal of child language
          Cambridge University Press (CUP)
          1469-7602
          0305-0009
          May 2015
          : 42
          : 3
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.
          [2 ] University of Waterloo.
          [3 ] Harvard University.
          Article
          S0305000914000178 NIHMS691524
          10.1017/S0305000914000178
          4451108
          24945193

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