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date: 25 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter compares the acquisition of nominative clitic and agreement markers in French and Spanish with the acquisition of person marking in the Mayan languages Wastek, Yukatek, Ch’ol and K’iche’. Whereas Spanish has a full nominative agreement paradigm on verbs, French relies upon pronominal clitics to mark person. Mayan languages use ergative and absolutive person markers. The acquisition data provide independent evidence for the clitic or agreement nature of the ergative and absolutive morphemes. Children acquired the ergative morphemes differently in the four Mayan languages indicating that the ergative morphemes are linguistically distinct. Only the Yukatek children’s production of the absolutive markers was similar to children’s production of agreement in Spanish. The results indicate that only absolutive agreement in Yukatek can be identified with nominative agreement in Spanish. A simple dichotomy between clitic and agreement does not explain the different production profiles of Mayan children.

Keywords: acquisition of person marking, ergative, absolutive, nominative, Mayan languages, clitics, agreement, Wastek, Yukatek, Ch’ol, K’iche’

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