The pitfalls of getting from here to there: Bootstrapping the syntax and semantics of motion event expressions in Yucatec Maya
MetadataShow full item record
According to Landau & Gleitman’s (1985) Syntactic Bootstrapping Hypothesis, children are guided in the acquisition of motion and state change expressions by certain morphosyntactic clues which distinguish their meanings. In particular, source- and goal-denoting expressions such as into and out of only occur with motion event expressions. From the presence of these clues, children are able to predict that the expression encodes motion rather than state change. It is shown in this article that children acquiring Yukatek Maya cannot rely on such morphosyntactic clues to differentiate between motion and state change meanings. Yukatek is a native American language spoken by approximately 800.000 people living on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico and Belize. In this language, the referential ground in a motion event, i.e. the object or place with respect to which motion is described, is expressed by adjuncts which distinguish neither dynamicity (‘move to/from’ vs. ‘be at’) nor directionality (source vs. goal), and the verbs deployed in such constructions to assert change of location are morphologically members of a class of dedicated change-of-state verbs. So there is no morphosyntactic difference in Yukatek between the translations of ‘enter the house’ and ‘die in the house’.