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.
Misha Becker and Susannah Kirby
This chapter provides an overview of the literature on children’s acquisition of constructions involving A(rgument)-movement: passive, unaccusative verbs, raising-to-subject, and raising-to-object. Considering A-movement within a derivational theoretical framework (GB/Minimalism), we provide some historical and theoretical context for treating these constructions under the same operation. In all cases, the surface position of an NP is incongruous with its syntactic configuration for receiving its thematic role. For each construction we discuss empirical evidence concerning children’s knowledge of the construction (including, where available, cross-linguistic data), and the major theoretical debates that have arisen around them, notably Maturation. We suggest that variability in experimental outcomes, both within and across constructions, can be linked to methodological choices and not likely to lack of linguistic knowledge.
This chapter examines abstract phrasal and clausal constructions, the most complex and schematic end of the constructicon cline. It outlines how constructionist approaches can describe and model even the most abstract of syntactic structures. The chapter discusses the arrangement of declarative, interrogative, imperative, and relative clauses in default inheritance networks and points out differences between those Construction Grammar frameworks that take a usage-based approach and those which do not. It also analyzes English comparative correlative construction and provides empirical evidence for a specific intonational signature of this construction.
Niels O. Schiller and Rinus G. Verdonschot
This chapter describes how speakers access words from the mental lexicon. Lexical access is a crucial component in the process of transforming thoughts into speech. Some theories consider lexical access to be strictly serial and discrete, while others view this process as being cascading or even interactive, i.e. the different sub-levels influence each other. We discuss some of the evidence in favour and against these viewpoints, and also present arguments regarding the ongoing debate on how words are selected for production. Another important issue concerns the access to morphologically complex words such as derived and inflected words, as well as compounds. Are these accessed as whole entities from the mental lexicon or are the parts assembled online? This chapter tries to provide an answer to that question as well.
David Beaver and Henk Zeevat
This article explores the complex and intricate problem of accommodation, which sits right at the linguistic interface between semantics and pragmatics. Accommodation is an inferential process that is subject to pragmatic constraints. A discussion of the different contexts in which accommodation can take place and the pragmatic principles that select between those contexts is presented. The article also addresses a puzzle on missing accommodation. It then outlines the data and some lines of explanation for Lewisian accommodation. The article finally draws some general conclusions about progress that has been made in understanding accommodation, its significance for the study of presupposition and other phenomena, and considers what remains to be done. The theory of accommodation has become far more nuanced than Lewis's original conception.
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.
In this chapter the acquisition of pronouns and reflexives is discussed. It reviews several accounts of the so-called Delay of Principle B Effect, the absence of this effect in some languages, and the structural factors that influence its appearance in child language. It also discusses children’s alledged target-like performance on reflexives in several languages with different type of reflexives. The chapter concludes that provided a balanced experimental design is used, the experimental results point at early mastery of Principle A and B, and that children’s difficulties with the interpretation of pronouns and reflexives are to be found at the interfaces between syntax and discourse or semantics, and may be due to limited (syntactic) processing resources.
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.
This chapter looks at the acquisition of comparatives from formal, theoretical, and cross-linguistic perspectives. It begins by reviewing children’s aberrations from adults in the form of the comparative constructions that they produce through at least age 6, and then turns to theoretical accounts of comparatives and degree constructions across a range of languages to pinpoint specific areas in the construction of a comparative in which children’s representations and interpretations may go astray, or converge with adults. A range of studies and methodologies used over the years are reviewed in order to present a clear picture of what we currently know about children’s developing understanding of comparison and comparatives, and to clear a path for future research in this area.