Megan M Sutton

 
 

Research interests


My primary research interest is in (first) language acquisition. Children are faced with the task of constructing a system of abstract representations for the language in their environment; I am interested in examining what is contributed to this process by innate linguistic knowledge, evidence derived from the input, and mechanisms for processing sentences in real time.

My current research explores the acquisition of Principle C, in several lines of questioning (below).


The effects of processing efficiency


How does efficiency of processing at the lexical and syntactic levels affect interpretation in Principle C contexts? How can we characterize children’s underlying grammatical knowledge by investigating the on-line deployment of this knowledge?


    Sutton, M., Fetters, M., & Lidz, J. (2012). Parsing for Principle C at 30 Months. In N. Danis, K. Mesh, & H. Sung
        (Eds.), Proceedings from the Boston University Conference on Language Development 2011, pps. 581-593.
        Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
[pdf]


    Sutton, M., Fetters, M., & Lidz, J. (2012). Parsing for Principle C at 30 Months. Poster presentation at the
        Generative Linguistics in the Old World conference, special workshop on The Timing of Grammar. Potsdam,
        Germany, March 27, 2012.
[pdf]


    Sutton, M., Lukyanenko, C., & Lidz, J. (2011). The Onset of Principle C at 30 Months: The role of vocabulary,
        syntactic development, and processing efficiency. In N. Danis, K. Mesh, & H. Sung (Eds.), Proceedings from
        the Boston University Conference on Language Development 2010, pps. 577-589. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla
        Press.
[pdf]


Non-adult interpretive strategies


What is the developmental trajectory of this grammatical knowledge? How early do children demonstrate adult-like interpretations with respect to Principle C? Is behavior driven by accurate grammatical knowledge from the start, or do children initially consider alternative interpretive strategies?


   Sutton, M., Fetters, M., & Lidz, J. (2012). Children Really Know Principle C by 30 Months. Talk at the 37th annual    
        Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD). Boston, MA, November 2, 2012.   


    Sutton, M., Fetters, M., & Lidz, J. (2012). Principle C Behavior is Caused by Principle C in 30 Month Olds:
    evidence against a transitivity bias. Talk at the 5
th Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition-
    North America (GALANA). Lawrence, KS, October 11, 2012.


Cross-linguistic comparisons


How can cross-linguistic comparison inform our understanding of the development of structural representations that allow computation of Principle C?


    How does the developmental trajectory of Principle C compare with that of language-specific interpretive constraints,
          such as the ‘poka-constraint’ in Russian? Are differences in the acquisition pattern reflected in differences in the
          frequency of relevant input? [with Yakov Kronrod]


    How is Principle C manifested in non-configurational languages which allow seemingly free word order? In such
          languages, are Principle C effects even observed? Is the developmental trajectory of Principle C comparable to
          that observed in configurational languages? [with Dustin Chacón]

4th year phd student
Department of Linguistics


suttonm2 [at] umd [dot] edu


1401 Marie Mount Hall

University of Maryland

College Park, MD 20742