Event end-state encoding in 13-month-olds—completed and non-completed events are different

Angela Xiaoxue He*, Sudha Arunachalam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Young children sometimes incorrectly interpret verbs that have a “result” meaning, such as understanding ‘fill’ to refer to adding liquid to a cup rather than filling it to a particular level. Given cross-linguistic differences in how event components are realized in language, past research has attributed such errors to non-adultlike event-language mappings. In the current study, we explore whether these errors have a non-linguistic origin. That is, when children view an event, is their encoding of the event end-state too imprecise to discriminate between events that do versus do not arrive at their intended endpoints? Using a habituation paradigm, we tested whether 13-month-old English-learning infants (N = 86) discriminated events with different degrees of completion (e.g., draw a complete triangle versus draw most of a triangle). Results indicated successful discrimination, suggesting that sensitivity to the precise event end-state is already in place in early infancy. Thus, our results rule out one possible explanation for children’s errors with change-of-state predicates—that they do not notice the difference between end-states that vary in completion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalLanguage and Cognition
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Nov 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

User-Defined Keywords

  • change-of-state
  • event concepts
  • infant cognition
  • language acquisition


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