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Paths in L1 acquisition of verb second: On the role of input and frequency
Växjö University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Humanities.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0983-6333
2009 (English)In: 30th Annual Linguistics Conference: June 11th & 12th 2009, University of Groningen, 2009, 133-134 p.Conference paper, Poster (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This presentation deals with similarities and differences in L1 acquisition of verb second (V2) among Swedish children. In Swedish, V2 means that the finite verb must be the second constituent in main clauses (1). In subordinate clauses, the finite verb occurs in a lower position, following sentence negation (2).

(1) a. Igår         ville     Per  inte handla julklappar.

         yesterday wanted Per not  shop    Christmas-gifts

     b. *Igår         Per ville     inte handla julklappar.

          yesterday Per wanted not shop    Christmas-gifts

(2) …att   Per inte ville      handla julklappar         igår.

        that Per not  wanted shop    Christmas-gifts yesterday

This study investigates the acquisition of V2 among 4 monolingual Swedish speaking children (1;6–3;0), focusing on their input as well as their production.

As regards the input for V2, all children are exposed to an equally large and stable amount of input for V2. Lexically, the input for V2 is characterized to a great extent by the same finite verbs and initial constituents.

Although exposed to a quantitatively and qualitatively similar input for V2, not all 4 children acquire V2 alike. 3 children apply V2 consistently in the earliest finite utterances, finite verbs are rarely misplaced. No lexical limitations are observed.

The fourth child, called Tea, makes abundant verb placement errors up to an age of 3;3, a period during which she applies V2 only sporadically. It is however argued that Tea’s early V2 consists of imitated chunks and that V2 is not applied systematically until just before 3;0. Moreover, it is argued that Tea does not misplace finite verbs randomly, but that her verb placement in main clauses develops systematically in 3 phases: from a low verbal position following sentence negation, as in subordinate clauses (see (2) above), via a verbal position in the middle field of the clause, as in (1b) above, to the second position, as in (1a) above. The transition to V2 happens abruptly between 3;3 and 3;4.

As regards the theoretical implications of my results, I discuss the role of input and frequency in acquisition, arguing that neither copying of input patterns based on frequency nor triggering parameters can capture Tea’s verb placement. Instead it seems that Tea formulates and evaluates different hypotheses, a strategy which allows children to take different paths in acquisition. Furthermore, I explore the relation between verb placement in subordinate clauses in the input and Tea’s deviating verb placement in main clauses. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. 133-134 p.
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
Humanities, Linguistics; Humanities, Swedish
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-59524OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-59524DiVA: diva2:1060287
Conference
TABU Dag 2009
Available from: 2016-12-28 Created: 2016-12-28 Last updated: 2017-01-09Bibliographically approved

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