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.
In this chapter, the Academy of Persian Language and Literature is introduced in the context of an eighty-year-old history of the establishment of the Academy in Iran. The chapter intends to describe the atmosphere which motivated the need for the emergence of this institution in Iran. It seems to be fair to claim that word selection, and more technically terminology, has been the central concern of the three Iranian academies of the Persian language. It also seems to be just to evaluate the contributions and activities of the first and the third academies in Iran more fruitful both quantitatively and qualitatively than the endeavours of the second Iranian academy. The experiences which Iran has gained in the last eight decades could be relied on to move forward from a stage of language reform activities towards a more comprehensive phase of developing a language policy for the country in future.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Eve V. Clark
Children acquire some derived word forms early, initially as unanalyzed wholes. But from about age 2 onwards, they start to make use of attested derived word-form patterns when they construct new words to convey specific meanings. These spontaneous coinages offer one source of evidence for children’s identification of affixes and their meanings. Two further sources are elicited interpretations of novel words never heard before, and elicited coinages to express novel meanings. All three have been studied extensively for a number of languages. Children’s acquisition of derived word-forms depends on their ability to identify core stems and affixes, on the semantic transparency of the affixes (known meanings), and on productivity (forms well attested in adult speech). Order of acquisition for specific derivational meanings depends largely on adult productivity, and this varies with language typology.
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.
Stanka A. Fitneva
How do children learn the evidential system of their language? The primary goal of this chapter is to summarize existing research on this topic. Its secondary goal is to position this research within a broader framework of investigating language development focusing on the learner, the target language, and the environment as key explanatory factors. The chapter reviews both observational and experimental studies, the latter exploring the production and comprehension of evidentials as well as their use in assessing the reliability of information. This research provides insight primarily into the contributions of cognitive processes to children’s learning of evidentials. The data, however, also hint at how the environment, in particular socialization processes, could help children break the code of evidentials, suggesting that this may be the next frontier of research in the area.
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.
Ewan Dunbar and William Idsardi
This chapter gives a unified overview of the research on how phonological inventories are acquired in a first language. It surveys the main highlights of the literature from both a perception and a production standpoint, from both linguistics and psychology, with an eye to how we might start to square the various disagreeing sets of facts.
Sabine Stoll, Balthasar Bickel, and Jekaterina Mažara
In first language acquisition research so far little is known about the affordances involved in children's acquisition of morphologies of different complexities. This chapter discusses the acquisition of Chintang verbal morphology. Chintang is a Sino-Tibetan (Kiranti) polysynthetic language spoken in a small village in Eastern Nepal by approximately 6,000 speakers. The most complex part of Chintang morphology is verbal inflection. A large number of affixes, verb compounding, and freedom in prefix ordering results in over 1,800 verb forms of single stem verbs and more than 4,000 forms if a secondary stem is involved. In this chapter we assess the challenges of learning such a complex system, and we describe in detail what this acquisition process looks like. For this we analyze a large longitudinal acquisition corpus of Chintang.