Nouns and verbs in Chintang: Children's usage and surrounding adult speech

Sabine Stoll, Balthasar Bickel, Elena Lieven, Netra P. Paudyal, Goma Banjade, Toya N. Bhatta, Martin Gaenszle, Judith Pettigrew, Ichchha Purna Rai, Manoj Rai, Novel Kishore Rai

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Analyzing the development of the noun-to-verb ratio in a longitudinal corpus of four Chintang (Sino-Tibetan) children, we find that up to about age four, children have a significantly higher ratio than adults. Previous cross-linguistic research rules out an explanation of this in terms of a universal noun bias; instead, a likely cause is that Chintang verb morphology is polysynthetic and difficult to learn. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that the development of Chintang children's noun-to-verb ratio correlates significantly with the extent to which they show a similar flexibility with verbal morphology to that of the surrounding adults, as measured by morphological paradigm entropy. While this development levels off around age three, children continue to have a higher overall noun-to-verb ratio than adults. A likely explanation lies in the kinds of activities that children are engaged in and that are almost completely separate from adults' activities in this culture. © Copyright Cambridge University Press 2011.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)284-321
    Number of pages37
    JournalJournal of Child Language
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


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