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.
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.
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.
The chapter interprets grammar (morpho-syntax) as an adaptive product of human evolution. It situates grammar within the rise of the two mega-functions of human language: cognitive representation and communication. It then points out that grammar is not primarily about representation, be it lexical or propositional, but rather about communication. Within such an adaptive framework, the article suggests that the communicative function of grammar easily translates into classical Gricean terms; that is, the speaker's ever-shifting mental representation, during ongoing communication, of their interlocutor's ever-shifting deontic (intentional) and epistemic (belief) states. Grammar is thus a structured, highly automated mechanism for representing and manipulating the mind of the other during ongoing communication. The chapter, lastly, situates the evolution of grammar within the adaptive ecological context of early communication
This chapter reviews the currently most active debates in the field of the morphological derivation of adjectives and adverbs. It adresses in particular the problem of what is a grammatically relevant classification of adjectival and adverbial classes in morphology, how much correspondence there is between different morphological processes and the sub-classes identified by grammatical criteria and, as a consequence of the previous problems, whether complex adjectives are defined by the information of the morphological process, its base or the interaction of both factors. Some space is also devoted to the problem of the relation between inflection and derivation in morphologically complex adjectives.
Rebekah Baglini and Christopher Kennedy
This chapter investigates the relationship between adjectives and event structure by looking at properties of deverbal adjectives and deadjectival verbs. Although simple adjectives are not eventive, they nevertheless play an important role in matters of event structure, both in the way that they influence the eventive properties of verbs that they are derivationally related to, and in the way that an understanding of the scalar properties of adjectival meaning informs theorizing about eventive meanings. Although often considered in isolation, we show that adjectival gradability and verbal aspect are intimately related scalar phenomena. The structural properties of an adjectival scale determine the aspectual class of a derived event predicate. Similarly, the aspectual structure of a verb phrase constrains the scale structure of an adjectival participle. Our discussion focuses primarily on degree-based approaches to these phenomena, but we also consider alternative approaches based in a more articulated ontology for states.
This article examines the grammaticalisation of adverbs. It surveys ways in which adverbs can come into existence: via affixation, via case suffixes, and with true grammaticalised derivators. It argues that not every process that produces an adverb is per se a grammaticalization process since adverb is a linguistic category which shows very different morphological behaviours. In addition, there are languages which have no morphological expression for such a category.
This article describes the different types of temporal adverbial, interactions of adverbials and tense, and tense and adverbials in subordinate clauses. From a morphosyntactic view, there are six different types of temporal adverbial: an adverbial composed of a noun phrase (NP) and an adposition; an NP functioning as an adverbial; sentential; a temporal adverbial clause; and based on adverbs and adjectives, respectively. This morphosyntactic classification is not coextensive with a semantic classification. The article uses a fourfold semantic classification—positional adverbials, quantificational adverbials, adverbials of duration, and Extended-Now adverbials—that more or less follows the traditional ones (except for Extended-Now adverbials, which is a novel category).
Yakov Testelets and Yury A. Lander
Adyghe, a polysynthetic language of the West Caucasian family, shows the typological characteristics of ergativity, left-branching word order, and the flexibility of the lexical categories. Its word has a high degree of morphological complexity and consists of five ordered morphological zones, within which the order of affixes can vary, and recursion is possible. The information encoded in the predicate includes the argument structure, causation, and various aspectual and modal characteristics. Many meanings can be expressed, either with a combination of morphemes, or a combination of words, or with both simultaneously. There are structural asymmetries at the clause level and the principle C violations in cross-clausal syntax—the phenomenon that has been recorded also in many polysynthetic languages of America.
This chapter discusses compounding in Hebrew. Section 27.2 reviews constructs and compounds. Section 27.3 shows that there are at least two distinct types of N + N constructs: one, labelled an R-construct, whose nonhead is referential; and another, an M-construct, whose non-head is a modifier. It is shown that M-constructs, but not R-constructs, share important properties with compounds. Finally, Section 27.4 presents a sketchy outline of an analysis of constructs and compounds in Hebrew.
This chapter is an overview of derivational means described so far for members of the Afroasiatic language phylum—about 375 living languages spoken by about 300 million speakers. The chapter begins with an outline of root-and-pattern morphology, as attested in Semitic, Egyptian, and Berber before describing other derivational means in Afroasiatic languages, including zero-derivation, affixation, reduplication, compounding, vowel changes, tone changes, and the derivational use of gender markers. The third part of the chapter is devoted to derivation in the Chadic family, the most diverse member of the phylum. Because only a small percentage of Afroasiatic languages have been described, one cannot yet posit universals for the phylum. However, languages of all Afroasiatic families show means of deriving nouns from verbs and from other nouns, and also (with the exception of the Omotic family) exhibit nouns formed via the prefix m(V) , which may be a universal of the Afroasiatic phylum.