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Child Development Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 498039, 17 pages
Research Article

Lexical, Morphological, and Syntactic Characteristics of Verbs in the Spontaneous Production of Italian Children

1Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università di Milano-Bicocca, Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo, 1, 20126 Milano, Italy
2Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università Degli Studi di Bari, 70124 Bari, Italy

Received 7 June 2011; Revised 17 November 2011; Accepted 5 December 2011

Academic Editor: Johanna G. Barry

Copyright © 2011 Laura D'Odorico et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study investigates from a developmental point of view the lexical, morphological, and syntactic characteristics of verb production during the first stages of language acquisition. The spontaneous productions of children with different mean length of utterance (MLU) were analysed, examining the relative production of different types of verbs (transitive, intransitive, and mixed), the arguments expressed or omitted in the utterances containing a verb, the morphological inflections produced by the children for each verb, and the generalisation of the syntactic construction with which specific verbs were produced. Data are interpreted in support of the hypothesis that children have a limited abstract knowledge of verbs in the early period of multiword utterance production and that the process of abstractness and generalisation develops gradually on the basis of linguistic experience.