Comparative Spatial Semantics and Language Acquisition: Evidence from Danish, English, and Japanese

Journal of Semantics 11 (4):253-287 (1994)
Abstract
Spatial relational meaning is typically predominantly expressed in English and related languages by die locative particle system. Even between closely related languages such as Danish and English, there are substantial differences with respect to both the semantics and the morphology of locative particles. Other languages (including Japanese), although they may use locative particles in spatial relational expression, distribute spatial relational meaning quite differendy between and within form classes. We investigate the consequences of these differences for the acquisition of spatial relational expressions in these three languages. Although the structure of the target language affects the specific strategies employed by the language acquiring child, the acquisition strategies for all three languages appear to be instances of a general class of conservative learning strategies. We discuss die implications of these findings in terms of the relationship between linguistic and cognitive determinants of spatial language acquisition
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