Depósito Legal: B-48039-2000
3.3.2 English and Korean acquisition of directed motion sentences
No detailed study comparing the acquisition of the means to express directed motion in English and Spanish has been published. Nevertheless, Soonja Choi and Melissa Bowerman have compared how English- and Korean-speaking children learn to express motion events. Korean is, like Spanish, a verb-framed language. Thus, it is reasonable to suppose that their findings would apply to the Spanish case, although a specific detailed study for Spanish speaking children is needed. Choi and Bowerman (1991 ) and Bowerman (1996), as well as the latest annual reports from the Max-Planck-Institute for Psycholinguistics (1996, 1997), give an account of this research.
Their findings seem to support Talmy’s typological distinction. Korean children learn to talk about motion events very differently from English-speaking children. In the case of English children, path particles like down, up, in, out, on, off, back, and away play a fundamental role in the early stages of learning to talk about motion. They first appear in single-word sentences and later in combination with other words. The children start using them in the age period of 14-16 months. They use them both for spontaneous motion and for caused motion. By 19-20 months they are able to combine the path particles productively with verbs that lexicalize manner, cause or deictic aspects of the motion event.
Korean children learn to express motion very differently. They are constrained by what is characteristic in their language. In Korean, path is expressed in the verb. Moreover, there is a strict distinction between words for spontaneous motion and words for caused motion. Like their English peers, Korean children begin to refer to motion events at 14-16 months. But the first words they use to talk about motion events are the transitive path verbs KKITA ‘fit’ and PPAYTA ‘unfit’. By 17-18 months they start to use other transitive path verbs. These path verbs conflate path with notions of figure and especially ground. The following examples give an idea of how Korean children’s verbs differ and overlap with the path particles used by English children:
They use the same verb (KKITA "fit") for putting a Figure into a tight container and attaching it to an outside surface (in vs. on for learners of English), and the same verb (PPAYTA, "unfit") for the reverse of these actions (out vs. off). But they use different verbs for putting objects into tight versus loose containers (KKITA vs. NEHTA; both in for learners of English) or taking them out (PPAYTA vs KKENAYTA; both out), for joining three-dimensional (KKITA), flat (PWUTHITA), or elongated (KKOCTA) Figures to a Ground (all in or on for learners of English, depending on whether there is containment), for putting clothing on the head (SSUTA), trunk (IPTA), or feet (SINTA; all on), and for being supported or carried in the arms. (Choi and Bowerman, 1995: 109, fn.17)
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Depósito Legal: B-48039-2000