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AuthorPierce, Amy E. author
TitleLanguage Acquisition and Syntactic Theory [electronic resource] : A Comparative Analysis of French and English Child Grammars / by Amy E. Pierce
ImprintDordrecht : Springer Netherlands, 1992
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Descript XI, 175 p. online resource


The theory of language acquisition is a young but increasingly active field. Language Acquisition and Syntactic Theory presents one of the first detailed studies of comparative syntax acquisition. It is informed by the view that linguists and acquisitionists are essentially working on the same problem, that of explaining grammar learnability. The author takes cross-linguistic data from child language as evidence for recent proposals in syntactic theory. Developments in the structure of children's sentences during the first few years of life are traced to changes in the setting of specific grammatical parameters. Some surprising differences between the early child grammars of French and English are uncovered, differences that can only be explained on the basis of subtle distinctions in inflectional structure. This motivates the author's claim that functional or nonthematic categories are represented in the grammars of very young children. The book also explores the relationship between acquisition and diachronic change in French and English. It is argued that findings in acquisition, when viewed from a parameter setting perspective, provide answers to important questions arising in the study of language change. The book promises to be of interest to all those involved in the formal, psychological or historical study of linguistic knowledge


1: Language Acquisition and Syntactic Theory -- 1.1 Introduction -- 1.2 Theoretical background -- 1.3 A methodological note -- Notes -- 2: Word Order -- 2.1 Word order in the early grammar of English -- 2.2 Postverbal subjects in the early grammar of French -- 2.3 Case assignment -- 2.4 Summary -- Notes -- 3: Negation -- 3.1 Negation in English child language -- 3.2 Negation in French child language -- 3.3 Comparative summary -- Notes -- 4: Inflectional Affixation -- 4.1 The acquisition of verbal inftection in English -- 4.2 The acquisition of verbal inftection in French -- Notes -- 5: Pronominal Subjects -- 5.1 Background issues -- 5.2 Subject pronouns in French child language -- 5.3 A comparative look at the English data -- Notes -- 6: Null Subjects -- 6.1 Null subjects in French child language -- 6.2 A comparative look at English acquisition -- 6.3 Null subjects over the course of acquisition -- Notes -- 7: Language Change -- 7.1 Change and acquisition in French -- 7.2 Change and acquisition in English -- Notes -- 8: A Comparative Look at Spanish Acquisition -- 8.1 Word order -- 8.2 Negation -- 8.3 Inftectional affixation -- 8.4 Subject pronouns -- Notes -- 9: Conclusion -- References -- Index of Names -- Index of Subjects

Linguistics Psycholinguistics Syntax Linguistics Psycholinguistics Syntax


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