Doing more with less: Verb learning in Korean-acquiring 24-month-olds

Sudha Arunachalam, Erin M. Leddon, Hyun joo Song, Yoonha Lee, Sandra R. Waxman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Research on early word learning reveals that verbs present a unique challenge. While English-acquiring 24-month-olds can learn novel verbs and extend them to new scenes, they perform better in rich linguistic contexts (when novel verbs appear with lexicalized noun phrases naming the event participants) than in sparser linguistic contexts (Arunachalam & Waxman 2011). However, in languages like Korean, where noun phrases are often omitted when their referents are highly accessible, rich linguistic contexts are less frequent. The current study investigates the influence of rich and sparse linguistic contexts in verb learning in Korean-acquiring 24-month-olds. In contrast to their English-acquiring counterparts, 24-month-olds acquiring Korean perform better when novel verbs appear in sparse linguistic contexts. These results, which provide the first experimental evidence on early verb learning in Korean, indicate that the optimal context for verb learning depends on many factors, including how event participants are typically referred to in the language being acquired.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-304
Number of pages13
JournalLanguage Acquisition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by NIH grant HD30410 to SRW and a Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society to SA. We are grateful to the children and caretakers who participated in this study, to Esther Chung, Debbie Hong, and Mihwa Kim for Korean proofreading assistance, and to Esther Chung, Eileen Graf, and Sid Horton for their helpful insights. All errors are of course our own.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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