The last three decades have seen the establishment of usage-based models of language development which maintain that actual language use is the foundation for language learning. A number of studies have demonstrated that children learn lexical frames in limited scope before attaining adult-like grammar by taking sequences of words directly from the input. Moreover, such sequences or multi-word-expressions (MWE) are organized around particular words or phrases (e.g., Tomasello 2000). This supports “item-based patterns” (IBP) of learning (MacWhinney 2014). In the area of second language (L2) acquisition studies, a growing amount of research has also demonstrated the relevance of usage-based models (Eskildsen 2008, 2012, 2014, 2015; Li, Eskildsen, and Cadierno 2014; Pütz, Niemeier, and Dirven 2001). This chapter examines how L2 learners use MWE in dealing with grammatical morphemes in Japanese with the focus on three polysemous particles, ni, de and kara, each of which is associated with both spatial and non-spatial abstract senses. Two Chinese-speaking learners’ usage patterns of these particles in a longitudinal spoken corpus are analyzed and compared to a child’s acquisition pattern. Results show different patterns of learners’ usage among different particles and different senses. Results also reveal some differences between first language (L1) and L2 acquisition patterns from which pedagogical implications can be derived.
Goal-marking morphemes, or allatives, are notoriously polysemous crosslinguistically. In a survey of 44 genetically and areally diverse languages, we have tracked synchronic usage patterns for 54 allative markers and confirmed that they indeed exhibit a wide range of semantic and grammatical functions. A number of previous grammaticalization studies undertaken from a cognitive/typological perspective have argued that various non-spatial goal-marking senses of allative morphemes, such as dative/benefactive and purposive, often develop out of a spatial sense through various semantic extensions. Our data also indicated that allatives grammaticalize extensively, but that dative, purposive, and other common abstract extensions, perhaps strongly associated with the allative sense, have an equal – and thus independent – likelihood of developing. That is, their functional evolution is not fully predetermined by a single implicational hierarchy or by a unidimensional grammaticalization chain. Instead, an allative marker undergoing grammaticalization has multiple extension pathways available to it.