Children'sendstate neglect: agentive vs. causative subjects
García Sanz, Ainara
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First language acquisition studies (e.g. Gentner,1978; Gropen, Pinker, Hollander & Goldberg, 1991; Wittek, 2002; van Hout,2005;2008) have reported that children accept perfective change-of-state predicates, which theoretically generate completion entailment, to refer to non-culminating events. This is known in the literature as the endstate neglect. In an attempt to interpret this phenomenon, three main hypotheses have been proposed: the Manner Bias (Gentner, 1978), the Weak Endstate Interpretation (Wittek, 2002) and the Morphological Salience (van Hout, 2005; 2008). However, as neither of these approaches have succeeded in providing a final explanation for children's endstate neglect, this study explores the scope of the Agent Control Hypothesis (Dermirdache & Martin, 2015), a recent theory that analyses the influence of subjects' agentivity over children's interpretation of change-of-state verbs. According to this new hypothesis, the presence of agentive subjects correlates with children's acceptance of completion entailment. Based on this theory, the present study examines Basque children and adult language in an attempt to identify whether the phenomenon of endstate neglect correlates with the presence of an agentive subject. By means of an experimental study on the influence of causative and agentive subjects over children's interpretation of punctual, change-of-state events, this paper argues that the results do not support the Agent Control Hypothesis. Instead, in line with previous studies, the results of the present study suggest that the endstate neglect is not relatedto change-of-state verbs but to incremental verbs, which seem to hold some grade of ambiguity for speakers' interpretation.