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Subject positions in L1 acquisition: On information structure and subject placement
Växjö University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Humanities. Umeå University.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0983-6333
2011 (English)In: Child Language Seminar (CLS 2011), Newcastle, June 13-14, 2011, 2011Conference paper, Poster (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In Swedish, DP-subjects in the middle field can either precede or follow a negation (1), whereas pronominal subjects can only precede a negation (unless stressed) (2).

1. a. Varför  kommer  mannen  inte   imorgon     istället?

       why      comes     man-the   not    tomorrow   instead

    b. Varför kommer inte mannen imorgon istället?

2. a. Varför  kommer  han  inte   imorgon     istället?

       why      comes     he     not    tomorrow   instead

    b. *Varför kommer inte han imorgon istället?

In recent work, two subject positions have been proposed, a high position for informationally given subjects and a low position for informationally new subjects. As pronouns generally refer to known referents, they occur in the high position. It has been reported that Swedish children place subjects in the higher position from early on; however, the information structural properties of different subject types have not been taken into consideration.

This presentation deals with the interaction between position and the information structural properties of the subject in L1 acquisition of Swedish. A corpus consisting of 45,000 spontaneous child utterances from 4 monolingual children aged 1;3–4;0 has been investigated. Results show that the children prefer the high position for pronominal subjects (84% pron-neg) and the low position for DP-subjects (80% neg-DP). This pattern is clear in main clauses, and for pronominal subjects in embedded clauses, whereas DP-subjects are rare in embedded clauses. From a developmental perspective, pron-neg and neg-DP precede neg-pron and DP-neg by approximately 6 months in main clauses. In embedded clauses, pron-neg also precedes neg-pron.

In addition, a corpus consisting of child-directed speech (54,000 of adult utterances) has been investigated. Results show that children’s production largely mirrors the patterns in their input. Thus, it seems that children are sensitive to information structure early on. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011.
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
Humanities, Swedish; Humanities, Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-59521OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-59521DiVA: diva2:1060268
Conference
Child Language Seminar (CLS 2011), Newcastle, June 13-14, 2011
Available from: 2016-12-28 Created: 2016-12-28 Last updated: 2017-03-02Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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  • asciidoc
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