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The communicative contexts of grammatical aspect use in English

Ibbotson, Paul; Lieven, Elena and Tomasello, Michael (2013). The communicative contexts of grammatical aspect use in English. Journal of Child Language, 41(3) pp. 705–723.

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In many of the world’s languages grammatical aspect is used to indicate how events unfold over time. In English, activities that are ongoing can be distinguished from those that are completed using the morphological marker –ing. Using naturalistic observations of two children in their third year of life, we quantify the availability and reliability of the imperfective form in the communicative context of the child performing actions. On average, 30% of verbal descriptions refer to child actions that are grounded in the here-and-now. Of these utterances, there are two features of the communicative context that reliably map onto the functions of the imperfective, namely, that events are construed as ongoing and from within. The findings are discussed with reference to how the context in which a child hears aspectual language may limit the degrees of freedom on what these constructions mean.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2013 Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 1469-7602
Extra Information: 19 pp.
Keywords: aspect; grammar; pragmatics; language development
Academic Unit/School: Other Departments > Other Departments
Related URLs:
Item ID: 37448
Depositing User: Paul Ibbotson
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2013 14:32
Last Modified: 02 May 2018 13:51
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