Where form meets meaning in the acquisition of grammatical constructions

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter focuses on the question of how children learn form–meaning mappings in the development of multiword utterances (i.e. the meaning associated with a specific sentence produced in a specific context). Following a theoretical overview, we examine the relationship between the input children hear and their early sentence productions through the lens of children’s grammatical errors. The goal is to determine the sources of input to which the learner is sensitive in the development of form–meaning mappings, and how these mappings may be refined over the course of development. We then consider how the semantic components of multiword utterances and the pragmatic (information-structural) contexts in which they occur impact on children’s early usage and interpretation of grammatical constructions to understand the cues children use to assign meaning. The chapter ends with a summary of outstanding questions and future directions.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCurrent Perspectives on Child Language Acquisition
Subtitle of host publicationHow children use their environment to learn
EditorsCaroline Rowland, Anna Theakston, Ben Ambridge, Katherine Twomey
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9789027261007
ISBN (Print)9789027207074
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

Publication series

NameTrends in Language Acquisition Research
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
ISSN (Electronic)1569-0644