Prepositional Marking of Source-Goal Structure and Children's Comprehension of English Passives Maratsos and Abramovitch (1975) argued that the presence of a preposition is the major cue for the passive interpretation of sentences by children. Experiment 1 of the present study demonstrates that the semantics of the preposition are more important than the syntactic form-class: In an otherwise passive frame (the giraffe ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 1981
Prepositional Marking of Source-Goal Structure and Children's Comprehension of English Passives
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • David N. Shorr
    University of Washington, Seattle
  • Philip S. Dale
    University of Washington, Seattle
Article Information
Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 1981
Prepositional Marking of Source-Goal Structure and Children's Comprehension of English Passives
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1981, Vol. 24, 179-184. doi:10.1044/jshr.2402.179
History: Received July 12, 1979 , Accepted March 4, 1980
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1981, Vol. 24, 179-184. doi:10.1044/jshr.2402.179
History: Received July 12, 1979; Accepted March 4, 1980

Maratsos and Abramovitch (1975) argued that the presence of a preposition is the major cue for the passive interpretation of sentences by children. Experiment 1 of the present study demonstrates that the semantics of the preposition are more important than the syntactic form-class: In an otherwise passive frame (the giraffe is tickled ... the camel), from elicits as many passive interpretations from preschoolers as the usual by, whereas to elicits primarily active interpretations. The results of Experiment 2 with younger children show that from actually may be a stronger elicitor of the passive interpretation than by. This linkage between the semantics of the preposition and the syntax of the sentence is interpretable in the perspective of the similarity between source-goal and agent-patient structures, as explicated by case grammar.

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