This article is about basic word order, morphology, and their relationship to movement. It explores some cross-linguistically pervasive word-order tendencies in which the hierarchical structure is reflected in left-to-right order (1–2–3) or right-to-left order (3–2–1) or in a mix of the two (1–3–2). The article also illustrates that there are basic asymmetries in these patterns for a wide variety of constructions in a wide variety of languages. It investigates one way to capture these ordering patterns: extension of Minimalist theory of phrasal movement. Moreover, the strengths and limitations of the Mirror Principle are reported. The position of agreement morphology or of negation does not seem to give the same sort of direct evidence for clause structure as is given by the position of functor morphemes expressing causation, tense, aspect, modality, and other concepts. Additionally, the article illustrates how verb clusters shed some additional light on the mechanisms responsible for word-order variation.
The earliest work in minimalism was primarily concerned with A-movement and its effects. Still, the mechanisms proposed in this work and in its sequels have had profound implications for our understanding of A-bar dependencies as well. This article sketches some of these implications, describing some of the history of this part of the field and identifying controversies where they arise. It focuses on properties of wh-movement. One of the earliest proposals of the minimalist framework was the elimination of D-structure and S-structure. Each of these is considered in turn. The article then moves on to consider some problems having to do with successive-cyclic wh-movement, and concludes with a discussion of implications that the properties of A-bar movement have for the interfaces between syntax, phonology, and semantics.
This chapter examines the nature of case licensing of the direct object in ergative constructions in Hindi, a split ergative language. Split ergativity in Hindi is conditioned by aspect – perfective transitive constructions display ergative case marking while non-perfective clauses do not. The chapter argues that in Hindi the morphologically bare direct object in an ergative construction is case licensed by T(ense) and not by little v as argued recently by Legate (2008) and others. The evidence for this proposal comes from examining the syntax of perfective and imperfective prenominal relative clauses, an empirical domain in Hindi that has not been previously examined from the perspective of case licensing. The restrictions found on what arguments can be relativized in prenominal relative clauses provide crucial evidence for the nature of case licensing in Hindi participial clauses and that evidence in turn bears upon the nature of object case licensing in ergative constructions.
The concepts of possession and ownership are among the first to be expressed by children when they start acquiring language. This chapter starts with an overview of the properties of possession cross-linguistically followed by a review of the literature on the acquisition of possession in five languages—English, German, Greek, Hebrew, and Japanese. The studies on the acquisition of possession are discussed in relation to learnability issues and avenues are identified for future research on the acquisition of possession.
Sonja Eisenbeiss, Bhuvana Narasimhan, and Maria Voeikova
Case is one of the most heterogeneous nominal morphological categories: the number of case forms in morphological paradigms, the syntactic and semantic functions of case, and the set of declension classes differ even in typologically similar languages. Hence, the acquisition of case presents the child with a major learning challenge. This article presents empirical studies and theoretical perspectives on case acquisition in children, focusing on generative, natural morphology, cognitive-functional, and usage-based approaches. The empirical focus is on the acquisition of accusative, ergative, and split case systems. The article also explores productivity in children's early case forms, the role of nature or nurture in the acquisition of case, form-meaning mappings in the acquisition of case, and the time course of case development.
Jill de Villiers and Tom Roeper
The development of complementation engages high-level parametric variation, a variety of separate modules, and very specific lexical variation across the possible grammars in UG. In particular, finiteness, argument structure, control, empty categories, and recursion all present separate challenges and create an intricate grammatical acquisition path for any child. The essential question is: how does the CP node expand from small clauses to infinitives to tensed clauses? The next question is: how does the grammar interface with cognition, as complements express propositional attitudes, and false beliefs? We survey empirical research that documents descriptive work on the growth of complementation and theoretical research addressed to linking rules and movement rules. We survey both what is known and new questions that need to be investigated.
The chapter illustrates variation associated with ergative alignment and properties of ergative languages that might impact on acquisition of the system. Language input, the social context and developmental patterns are also discussed, as are criteria for determining when a system has been acquired. Examples provided represent different language families and geographic areas. Also included are more detailed examples: for Kaluli, which has a split ergative system, dependent on word order and pragmatic factors; for Arctic Quebec Inuktitut which employs detransitivisation processes to change the role of the arguments of bivalent verbs; and for Warlpiri which has frequent ellipsis of core arguments, so reducing the frequency of ergative marking in the input. The data illustrate that split morphological systems and variable use of ergative marking do not seem to be problematic overall. By the age of 2.5 or 3 years, children show knowledge of the system.
Keiko Murasugi and Koji Sugisaki
This article investigates a number of issues concerning parameter setting and developmental factors in language acquisition. It is mainly limited to studies on the acquisition of syntax that provide intriguing empirical findings. The studies of Japanese acquisition confirm the early emergence of Universal Grammar principles, but the syntactic phenomena that are taken up to demonstrate this point are quite different from those in the acquisition of English, which makes these studies quite intriguing from the viewpoint of acquisition theory. The article also indicates that the time course of child language acquisition is a potentially rich source of evidence concerning the parameters of variation permitted by human language. It is hoped that the connection between acquisitional investigations and theoretical studies of the Japanese language will be further tightened in the future.
Bill Forshaw, Lucinda Davidson, Barbara Kelly, Rachel Nordlinger, Gillian Wigglesworth, and Joe Blythe
This chapter reports on initial findings of an ongoing large-scale research project into the acquisition of Murrinhpatha, a polysynthetic language of the Daly River region of the Northern Territory of Australia with complex morphology. The complex verbal structures in Murrinhpatha, which can contain a large number of morphemes and bipartite stem morphology discontinuously distributed throughout the verbal template, raise a multitude of questions for acquisition. In this chapter we focus particularly on the acquisition of the complex predicate system in the verb, and the acquisition of subject-marking categories and tense/aspect/mood. Our findings are based on the language development of five Murrinhpatha acquiring children aged from 2;7–4;11 years.