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Week 2. Early Syntactic Development GRS LX 700 Language Acquisition and Linguistic Theory.

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1 Week 2. Early Syntactic Development GRS LX 700 Language Acquisition and Linguistic Theory

2 Stages One word stage One word stage At 12-18 months, kids start using identifiable words, but tend to produce only one at a time. At 12-18 months, kids start using identifiable words, but tend to produce only one at a time. Two word stage Two word stage Around 20 months more or less, kids start putting words together. Around 20 months more or less, kids start putting words together. Do they put the words together like adults do? What is the status of their linguistic (syntactic) knowledge? Do they put the words together like adults do? What is the status of their linguistic (syntactic) knowledge?

3 MLU Kids linguistic development is often measured in terms of Mean Length of Utterance (MLU). Kids linguistic development is often measured in terms of Mean Length of Utterance (MLU). Can be measured in various ways (words, morphemes) Can be measured in various ways (words, morphemes) Gives an idea of kids normal utterance length Gives an idea of kids normal utterance length Seems to correlate reasonably well with other qualitative changes in kid productions Seems to correlate reasonably well with other qualitative changes in kid productions

4 2-year olds Around 2 years old Around 2 years old Around MLU 1.75 Around MLU 1.75 Around 400 words in the vocabulary Around 400 words in the vocabulary 1-3 word utterances 1-3 word utterances Word order generally right Word order generally right Grammatical words (the, is) generally missing Grammatical words (the, is) generally missing

5 2 1/2 year olds About 2 1/2 to 3 years About 2 1/2 to 3 years About MLU 2.25 About MLU 2.25 About 900 words in the vocabulary About 900 words in the vocabulary Some grammatical devices (past tense -ed, verbal -ing). Some grammatical devices (past tense -ed, verbal -ing). Over-regularization errors (He goed in the house), indicating theyve grasped the rule of past tense formation. Over-regularization errors (He goed in the house), indicating theyve grasped the rule of past tense formation. Single clause sentences Single clause sentences

6 3 and 4 year olds About 3 to 3 1/2 years, MLU about 2.75, about 1200 words, beginning to use syntactic transformations (Is Daddy mad? Where is he going?) About 3 to 3 1/2 years, MLU about 2.75, about 1200 words, beginning to use syntactic transformations (Is Daddy mad? Where is he going?) About 3 1/2 to 4 years, MLU about 3.5, about 1500 words, multi-clause sentences, still some over-regularization About 3 1/2 to 4 years, MLU about 3.5, about 1500 words, multi-clause sentences, still some over-regularization

7 4 and 5 year olds 4-5 years, MLU around 4, about 1900 words, using more conjunctions and temporal terms (before, after), gain some metalinguistic awareness. 4-5 years, MLU around 4, about 1900 words, using more conjunctions and temporal terms (before, after), gain some metalinguistic awareness. After 5, MLU stays about the same (no longer predictive), sentences get more complex, vocabulary increases (more slowly), over-regularization decreases… After 5, MLU stays about the same (no longer predictive), sentences get more complex, vocabulary increases (more slowly), over-regularization decreases…

8 Do kids at the one-word stage have/know syntactic structure? Early attempt to answer the question. Based on comprehensionkids clearly understand more than they can produce. de Villiers & de Villiers (1973), kids around MLU (mean length of utterance) 1 to 1.5 asked to act out the truck pushes the car, and got it right only about a third of the time.

9 Do kids at the one-word stage have/know syntactic structure? Hirsh-Pasek & Golinkoff (1991), preferential looking task. Less burdensome task. Significant preference for correct screen (word order & role). Hirsh-Pasek & Golinkoff (1991), preferential looking task. Less burdensome task. Significant preference for correct screen (word order & role). Hey,Cookie Monster is tickling Big Bird.

10 How do we describe multi- word utterances? Syntactically, in the same terms as the adult grammar? (continuity) Syntactically, in the same terms as the adult grammar? (continuity) Or discontinuously? (For some reason, people seem to think this is simpler…) Or discontinuously? (For some reason, people seem to think this is simpler…) Thematic (agent+action, action+theme, …) Thematic (agent+action, action+theme, …) Pivot (P 1 + O, O + P 2, O + O, O) Pivot (P 1 + O, O + P 2, O + O, O) Limited scope formulas (here+X, want+X) Limited scope formulas (here+X, want+X)

11 Syntactic approach Continuity: Continuity: VPVP VPPVPP sitsit PNPPNP onchair chair VPVP VPPVPP sitsit PNPPNP onchair chair

12 Why 2 words? Maybe they omit words they dont know? Maybe they omit words they dont know? Well, but they do omit words they know. Well, but they do omit words they know. A kid whos used hurt before, documented as saying baby cheek to mean baby hurt cheek. A kid whos used hurt before, documented as saying baby cheek to mean baby hurt cheek. Pinker (1984): Processing bottleneck Pinker (1984): Processing bottleneck A 2-word utterance filter A 2-word utterance filter Kids grow out of this constraint. Kids grow out of this constraint. Still, kind of mysterious. Whats easier? Still, kind of mysterious. Whats easier?

13 Arguments for syntax… Conceptually: Conceptually: Kids do reach a point where they know N and V, and they dont seem to make the kinds of mismatch errors youd expect if they were switching from a thematically-based categorization to a grammatically-based categorization. Kids do reach a point where they know N and V, and they dont seem to make the kinds of mismatch errors youd expect if they were switching from a thematically-based categorization to a grammatically-based categorization.

14 Arguments for syntax… Concretely: Concretely: Animacy is a salient and linguistically relevant feature of nouns. But kids seem class nouns together (for the purposes of syntax and word order) regardless of animacy. Animacy is a salient and linguistically relevant feature of nouns. But kids seem class nouns together (for the purposes of syntax and word order) regardless of animacy. Even though most subjects heard are animate, most objects heard are inanimate, kids will happily use inanimate subjects or animate objects. Even though most subjects heard are animate, most objects heard are inanimate, kids will happily use inanimate subjects or animate objects. Kids will also happily use modifier+noun combinations in both subject and object position. Kids will also happily use modifier+noun combinations in both subject and object position. Kids distinguish between types of nouns, big one, big dog, but not *big he (though he big). Kids distinguish between types of nouns, big one, big dog, but not *big he (though he big).

15 Arguments for syntax… Semantic information probably comes into play as well as, but not instead of syntax. Semantic information probably comes into play as well as, but not instead of syntax. Kaluli is an ergative language: subjects of transitives get ergative case-marking, other nouns are unmarked (absolutive). Kaluli is an ergative language: subjects of transitives get ergative case-marking, other nouns are unmarked (absolutive). Kaluli kids use ERG first only for subjects of transitives that are highly agentive. Kaluli kids use ERG first only for subjects of transitives that are highly agentive.

16 Arguments for syntax… Semantic information probably comes into play as well as, but not instead of syntax. Semantic information probably comes into play as well as, but not instead of syntax. Russian kid reportedly used accusative case marking only for prototypical themes (objects that changed location, for example). Russian kid reportedly used accusative case marking only for prototypical themes (objects that changed location, for example).

17 Structure in meaning Recall also the Hirsh-Pasek & Golinkoff (1991), preferential looking task. Recall also the Hirsh-Pasek & Golinkoff (1991), preferential looking task. Structure plays a crucial role in figuring out which screen to look at. Structure plays a crucial role in figuring out which screen to look at. Hey,shes kissing the keys.

18 The second green ball Challenge to assumption that kids have structure? Matthei (1982) 3;9-6;3 get the second green ball. Challenge to assumption that kids have structure? Matthei (1982) 3;9-6;3 get the second green ball. When faced with this: Do they pick the second and green ball or the second green ball? When faced with this: Do they pick the second and green ball or the second green ball? Kids did terriblyabout half the time wrong. Kids did terriblyabout half the time wrong.

19 …but the problem is the task However, why chance? Why not always second and green? However, why chance? Why not always second and green? This tends to suggest kids didnt really get the task. In fact, they made the same mistake with this array and pick the second ball. This tends to suggest kids didnt really get the task. In fact, they made the same mistake with this array and pick the second ball. So the problem is probably with ordinal numbers and manipulating subsets… So the problem is probably with ordinal numbers and manipulating subsets…

20 …but the problem is the task Additionally, the kids could see the array the whole time, so kids may well have decided on which object to pick by the time they heard pick the second… Additionally, the kids could see the array the whole time, so kids may well have decided on which object to pick by the time they heard pick the second… Hamburger & Crain (1984) re-did the experiment, hiding the array until the request was completekids error rate dropped to 14%. Hamburger & Crain (1984) re-did the experiment, hiding the array until the request was completekids error rate dropped to 14%.

21 Intermediate moral Its not easy to run a successful experimentyou have to be sure that what youre testing for isnt being obscured by other cognitive limitations. Its not easy to run a successful experimentyou have to be sure that what youre testing for isnt being obscured by other cognitive limitations. Act out The truck pushes the car. Act out The truck pushes the car. Pick the second green ball. Pick the second green ball.

22 One-substitution Anecdotal evidence: Anecdotal evidence: nice [yellow pen], nice one (1;11) nice [yellow pen], nice one (1;11) Hamburger & Crain (1984): Point to the first green ball. Ok. Now, point to the second one. Hamburger & Crain (1984): Point to the first green ball. Ok. Now, point to the second one. Note: Failure wouldnt tell us anything here, since one could also legitimately mean ballbut if kids take one to mean green ball, thats evidence that kids do have the syntactic sophistication to replace N with one. Note: Failure wouldnt tell us anything here, since one could also legitimately mean ballbut if kids take one to mean green ball, thats evidence that kids do have the syntactic sophistication to replace N with one. Nevertheless, 42 / 50 kids interpreted it as green ball. Nevertheless, 42 / 50 kids interpreted it as green ball.

23 Some properties of kidspeak Kids language differs from adult language in somewhat predictable ways. These can serve as clues to kids grammatical knowledge. Up to around 3 or so… Kids language differs from adult language in somewhat predictable ways. These can serve as clues to kids grammatical knowledge. Up to around 3 or so… Case errors for nouns Case errors for nouns Some word order errors Some word order errors Omitted subjects Omitted subjects Verbs not (always) fully inflected Verbs not (always) fully inflected

24 Word order errors? Languages vary with respect to word order Languages vary with respect to word order SVOEnglish, French, Mandarin, … SVOEnglish, French, Mandarin, … VSOTagalog, Irish, … VSOTagalog, Irish, … SOVJapanese, Korean, Turkish, … SOVJapanese, Korean, Turkish, … SOV+V2German, … SOV+V2German, … Clahsen (1986) reports that German kids dont manage to put the verb in second position until the finite/nonfinite distinction is mastered. Clahsen (1986) reports that German kids dont manage to put the verb in second position until the finite/nonfinite distinction is mastered. But at that point the change was immediate: Sentence-syntactic properties are stored separately from words category properties. But at that point the change was immediate: Sentence-syntactic properties are stored separately from words category properties.

25 Word order errors? Surprisingly few95% correct in English, DP- internal order (*black the dog) may be at 100%. Surprisingly few95% correct in English, DP- internal order (*black the dog) may be at 100%. Yet there are a number of things like: Doggy sew. Yet there are a number of things like: Doggy sew. It appears that in these cases, it is theme+V without an expressed agent. When agent is expressed, themes are in their place. It appears that in these cases, it is theme+V without an expressed agent. When agent is expressed, themes are in their place. Sounds like an unaccusative or a passive perhaps they are treating the verb in these cases as unaccusatives? Though, a red flag: Young kids are bad at passives and unaccusatives. Sounds like an unaccusative or a passive perhaps they are treating the verb in these cases as unaccusatives? Though, a red flag: Young kids are bad at passives and unaccusatives.

26 Word order errors Occasionally, postverbal subjects occurbut these seem to occur with likely unaccusatives with postverbal subjects on occasion: going it, come car, fall pants. (cf. adult Mandarin, or Italian, which would allow that). Occasionally, postverbal subjects occurbut these seem to occur with likely unaccusatives with postverbal subjects on occasion: going it, come car, fall pants. (cf. adult Mandarin, or Italian, which would allow that). Alternative approach to Doggy sew might be topicalization: Doggy, you sewif kids actually cant do passives and unaccusatives, then this might be the only explanation (short of pure performance error). Alternative approach to Doggy sew might be topicalization: Doggy, you sewif kids actually cant do passives and unaccusatives, then this might be the only explanation (short of pure performance error).

27 The Bennish optative Anecdote about Ben, from Sadock (1982) Anecdote about Ben, from Sadock (1982) SVO normally, but in optative (wish) constructions, he uses a weird word order. SVO normally, but in optative (wish) constructions, he uses a weird word order. Intransitives (subject follows verb) Intransitives (subject follows verb) Fall down Daddy. Daddy should fall down Fall down Daddy. Daddy should fall down Eat Benny now. Let Benny eat now. Eat Benny now. Let Benny eat now. Sit down Maggie, Mommy. Maggie should sit down, Mommy. Sit down Maggie, Mommy. Maggie should sit down, Mommy. Transitives (subject marked with for) Transitives (subject marked with for) Pick up Benny for Daddy. Daddy should pick Ben up. Pick up Benny for Daddy. Daddy should pick Ben up. Read a story for Mommy. Mommy should read a story. Read a story for Mommy. Mommy should read a story.

28 The Bennish optative Hes marking transitive subjects with for, but leaving intransitive subjects and objects unmarked. Hes marking transitive subjects with for, but leaving intransitive subjects and objects unmarked. In the optative, Ben treats transitive subjects differently, and objects and intransitive subjects the same way. In the optative, Ben treats transitive subjects differently, and objects and intransitive subjects the same way. This pattern is reflected in a type of adult language as well. Ergative languages mark subjects of transitives differently from both objects and intransitive subjects. This pattern is reflected in a type of adult language as well. Ergative languages mark subjects of transitives differently from both objects and intransitive subjects. Accusative languages (like English) mark objects differently (I left, I bought cheese, Bill saw me). Accusative languages (like English) mark objects differently (I left, I bought cheese, Bill saw me).

29 The Bennish optative Perhaps Bens language is ergative in the optative mood. (An option for adult languages, though clearly not in his parents language) Perhaps Bens language is ergative in the optative mood. (An option for adult languages, though clearly not in his parents language) Further evidence: Further evidence: Ergative case marker is often homophonous with marker for possessive (cf. Inuktitut -up used for both), and Ben uses for (his ERG marker) in possessive constructions as well. Ergative case marker is often homophonous with marker for possessive (cf. Inuktitut -up used for both), and Ben uses for (his ERG marker) in possessive constructions as well. Thats a nose for Maggie Thats Maggies nose. Thats a nose for Maggie Thats Maggies nose.

30 The Bennish optative Further evidence: Further evidence: Ergative languages are almost invariably split often along semantic lines. Sadock takes the optative restriction to be of this type (cf. Georgian, nominative- accusative most of the time, except in the subjunctive and aorist, where it is ergative-absolutive) Ergative languages are almost invariably split often along semantic lines. Sadock takes the optative restriction to be of this type (cf. Georgian, nominative- accusative most of the time, except in the subjunctive and aorist, where it is ergative-absolutive) Bens not really making word order errors, exactlyhe just thinks hes speaking Georgian. His errors come from among the options. Bens not really making word order errors, exactlyhe just thinks hes speaking Georgian. His errors come from among the options.

31 Pre-subject negation Kids will say things like: Kids will say things like: No I see truck No I see truck Not Fraser read it Not Fraser read it No lamb have a chair either. No lamb have a chair either. Anaphoric no? No, I see the truck. Anaphoric no? No, I see the truck. Often distinguishable from context, and they are not all anaphoric. Often distinguishable from context, and they are not all anaphoric.

32 Pre-subject negation Déprez & Pierce 1993 looked at these, and proposed that not Fraser read it comes from a failure to raise the subject out of SpecVP to SpecIP. That is, here, Fraser is still in its VP-internal subject position. Déprez & Pierce 1993 looked at these, and proposed that not Fraser read it comes from a failure to raise the subject out of SpecVP to SpecIP. That is, here, Fraser is still in its VP-internal subject position. Some believe this, some dont, but its a well-known analysis. (See OGrady for more discussion…) Some believe this, some dont, but its a well-known analysis. (See OGrady for more discussion…)

33 Case errors English pronouns exhibit Case English pronouns exhibit Case Nom: I, he, she, they Nom: I, he, she, they Acc: me, him, her, them Acc: me, him, her, them Gen: my, his, her, their Gen: my, his, her, their Kids seem to make errors until at least 2. Kids seem to make errors until at least 2. me got bean me got bean her do that her do that me eye me eye In general, it is often overgeneralization of Acc. In general, it is often overgeneralization of Acc.

34 Case errors As kid learns Nom, it alternates with overgeneralized Acc in subject position. As kid learns Nom, it alternates with overgeneralized Acc in subject position. Aldridge (1989): finite verbs have Nom. Aldridge (1989): finite verbs have Nom. Yet…? Yet…? I swinging. I swinging. He hiding. He hiding. These cases have a silent finite be? These cases have a silent finite be? I on this one, arent I? I on this one, arent I?

35 Case errors Bellugi (1967) observed that nominative I appears for sentence-initial subjects, but me marks non-sentence-initial subjects. Bellugi (1967) observed that nominative I appears for sentence-initial subjects, but me marks non-sentence-initial subjects. I laughing. I laughing. I here. I here. When me want it? When me want it? Where me sleep? Where me sleep? Vainikka (1993/4): no, me in wh-questions. Vainikka (1993/4): no, me in wh-questions.

36 Case errors Another possibility: based on agentivity? Another possibility: based on agentivity? Budwig (1990): I is for low agentivity, my is used for prototypical agent and acts to gain control. Budwig (1990): I is for low agentivity, my is used for prototypical agent and acts to gain control. I wear it (wearing microphone) I wear it (wearing microphone) My wear it (wants to wear microphone) My wear it (wants to wear microphone) Languages do make case distinctions based on agentivity & control, so kids learning some languages will need to attend to this. Languages do make case distinctions based on agentivity & control, so kids learning some languages will need to attend to this.

37 Overuse of accusative Topics? Cf., Her, I like… We think not. Topics? Cf., Her, I like… We think not. Kids using Acc subjects dont use topic intonation Kids using Acc subjects dont use topic intonation Acc subjects appear where topicalization should be disallowed: Acc subjects appear where topicalization should be disallowed: what me play with? what me play with? there her is. there her is. Doesnt say anything about me eye, me dad. Doesnt say anything about me eye, me dad.

38 Overuse of accusative Default case: Acc in adult English (Schütze 1997) Default case: Acc in adult English (Schütze 1997) Me too. Me too. What, me cheat?! Never! What, me cheat?! Never! Me, I like pizza. Me, I like pizza. Its me. Its me. Who did this? Me. Who did this? Me. So, overuse of accusative may well be just using a default form for nouns which dont have case. So, overuse of accusative may well be just using a default form for nouns which dont have case.

39 Default Case Russian (Babyonyshev 1993): Default case appears to be Nom. Russian (Babyonyshev 1993): Default case appears to be Nom. Russian kids make basically no errors in subject case. Russian kids make basically no errors in subject case. …but they overuse Nom in other positions (e.g., Nom instead of Acc on an object). …but they overuse Nom in other positions (e.g., Nom instead of Acc on an object).

40 Default Case German (Schütze 1995): Default case also appears to be Nom: German (Schütze 1995): Default case also appears to be Nom: Was? Ich dich betrügen? Nie! What? I cheat on you? Never! Was? Ich dich betrügen? Nie! What? I cheat on you? Never! Der, den habe ich gesehen. He, him I saw. Der, den habe ich gesehen. He, him I saw. Object case errors are more common than subject case errors, and usually involve overgeneralization of Nom. Object case errors are more common than subject case errors, and usually involve overgeneralization of Nom.

41 Determiners Kids will also often leave out determiners. Kids will also often leave out determiners. Hayley draw boat. Hayley draw boat. Turn page. Turn page. Reading book. Reading book. Want duck. Want duck. Wayne in garden Wayne in garden Daddy want golf ball. Daddy want golf ball.

42 Subject drop Even in languages which dont allow null subjects, kids will often leave subjects out. Even in languages which dont allow null subjects, kids will often leave subjects out. No turn. No turn. Ate meat. Ate meat. Touch milk. Touch milk. Dropping the subject is quite common dropping other things (e.g., object) is quite rare. Dropping the subject is quite common dropping other things (e.g., object) is quite rare.

43 Subject vs. object drop AESSubject576143 Object8715

44 Root infinitives Another, fairly recently-noticed aspect of kid speech is that they will use infinitive verbs sometimes when adults would use finite verbs. In lots of languages. Another, fairly recently-noticed aspect of kid speech is that they will use infinitive verbs sometimes when adults would use finite verbs. In lots of languages. French: Pas manger la poupée not eat[inf] the doll Michel dormir Michel sleep[inf] German: Zahne putzen teeth brush[inf] Thorstn das haben Thorsten that have[inf]. Dutch: Ik ook lezen I also read[inf.]

45 Root infinitives English kids do this too, it turns out, but this wasnt noticed for a long time. English kids do this too, it turns out, but this wasnt noticed for a long time. It only write on the pad (Eve 2;0) It only write on the pad (Eve 2;0) He bite me (Sarah 2;9) He bite me (Sarah 2;9) Horse go (Adam 2;3) Horse go (Adam 2;3) It looks like whats happening is kids are leaving off the -s. It looks like whats happening is kids are leaving off the -s. Taking the crosslinguistic facts into account, we now think those are nonfinite forms (i.e. to write, to bite, to go). Taking the crosslinguistic facts into account, we now think those are nonfinite forms (i.e. to write, to bite, to go).

46 Root infinitives However, children learning some languages seem to show very few root infinitives or none at all. However, children learning some languages seem to show very few root infinitives or none at all. Italian, for example. Italian, for example. Often these languages with very few root infinitives Often these languages with very few root infinitives Allow null subjects Allow null subjects Have fairly complex agreement morphology Have fairly complex agreement morphology

47 Pulling it all together Kids sometimes use nonfinite verbs. Kids sometimes use nonfinite verbs. Kids sometimes leave out the subject. Kids sometimes leave out the subject. Kids sometimes use the wrong Case on the subject (looks like a default Case). Kids sometimes use the wrong Case on the subject (looks like a default Case). Kids sometimes get the word order wrong (specifically, with respect to negation and for V2). Kids sometimes get the word order wrong (specifically, with respect to negation and for V2). Kids generally leave out determiners. Kids generally leave out determiners.

48 Kid grammars A major research industry arose trying to explain how these properties of child speech come about (and how they relate to each other) in terms of the grammatical and/or performance abilities of children. A major research industry arose trying to explain how these properties of child speech come about (and how they relate to each other) in terms of the grammatical and/or performance abilities of children.

49 Lets start with null subjects Until after around 2 years old, kids will often omit subjects: Until after around 2 years old, kids will often omit subjects: Drop bean. Drop bean. Fix Mommy shoe. Fix Mommy shoe. Helping Mommy. Helping Mommy. Want go get it. Want go get it. Why? Why?

50 The null subject parameter Adult languages differ in whether they require overt subjects or not. Adult languages differ in whether they require overt subjects or not. English does: English does: *Go to the movies tonight. *Go to the movies tonight. Italian and Spanish do not: Italian and Spanish do not: Vado al cinema stasera.(Italian) Vado al cinema stasera.(Italian) Voy al cine esta noche.(Spanish) (I) go to the movies tonight. Voy al cine esta noche.(Spanish) (I) go to the movies tonight.

51 S 0 = Italian? Hyams (1986) proposes that kids learning English go through a stage during which they are speaking Italian. Hyams (1986) proposes that kids learning English go through a stage during which they are speaking Italian. The null subject parameter has an initial setting, that of Italian. The null subject parameter has an initial setting, that of Italian. Kids use that setting until they reset it to the English value. Kids use that setting until they reset it to the English value.

52 Resetting the parameter Null subject languages do not have expletives like it or there. Null subject languages do not have expletives like it or there. The English input will provide plenty of examples The English input will provide plenty of examples No, its not raining. No, its not raining. Its not cold outside. Its not cold outside. Theres no more. Theres no more.

53 Resetting the parameter Null subject languages do not have unstressed pronouns. Null subject languages do not have unstressed pronouns. The English input (once the kids have figured out stress/focus) will still contain pronouns where they should be dropped if the language were a null subject language. The English input (once the kids have figured out stress/focus) will still contain pronouns where they should be dropped if the language were a null subject language.

54 S 0 = Italian Hyams (1986) was an early attempt to explain the null subjects in child language by making use of the options available among adult languages. Hyams (1986) was an early attempt to explain the null subjects in child language by making use of the options available among adult languages. Suggests that kids can mis-set a parameter (or leave a parameter set in its default state) and then recover. Suggests that kids can mis-set a parameter (or leave a parameter set in its default state) and then recover.

55 S 0 = Italian Nobody believes this anymore. Nobody believes this anymore. Distribution of null subjects in child English and Italian is just different. Distribution of null subjects in child English and Italian is just different. English: no embedded null subjects (Italian kids do have them, Valian 1991s 21 kids uttered 123 finite subordinate clauses and none had a null subject). English: no embedded null subjects (Italian kids do have them, Valian 1991s 21 kids uttered 123 finite subordinate clauses and none had a null subject). Other parameters seem to be set so fast that errors are never detectible (word order/V2/V-to- I). Parameters dont seem to be mis-set. Other parameters seem to be set so fast that errors are never detectible (word order/V2/V-to- I). Parameters dont seem to be mis-set.

56 Processing accounts… Kids have severely limited processing power, and so they leave off subjects to ease the load. (Bloom 1990) Kids have severely limited processing power, and so they leave off subjects to ease the load. (Bloom 1990) In favor: In favor: Length limitations even in imitations Length limitations even in imitations Kids omit things other than subjects Kids omit things other than subjects Some kids dont eliminate subjects, only reduce their frequency. Some kids dont eliminate subjects, only reduce their frequency.

57 Processing accounts… Contra? Hyams points out: Contra? Hyams points out: Build house…Cathy build house Build house…Cathy build house Go nursery…Lucy go nursery Go nursery…Lucy go nursery Kathryn want build another house. Kathryn want build another house. Bloom: So, no absolute limit on length, only a tendency to reduce length. Bloom: So, no absolute limit on length, only a tendency to reduce length.

58 Bloom (1990) Bloom (1970) found: Bloom (1970) found: negated sentences tend to lack subjects more frequently then non-negated sentences. negated sentences tend to lack subjects more frequently then non-negated sentences. Bloom (1990): Bloom (1990): Hypothesis: sentences without subjects will have longer VPs than sentences with subjects. Hypothesis: sentences without subjects will have longer VPs than sentences with subjects. Looked at past tense verbs and cognitive states (need) to avoid any confusion with imperatives. Looked at past tense verbs and cognitive states (need) to avoid any confusion with imperatives.

59 Bloom (1990) VP length (words from verb to the end) counted for sentences with and without subjects. VP length (words from verb to the end) counted for sentences with and without subjects. Results: Mean length of VP in sentences with subjects were (statistically) significantly shorter than those without. Results: Mean length of VP in sentences with subjects were (statistically) significantly shorter than those without. E.g., Adam 2.333 with, 2.604 without. E.g., Adam 2.333 with, 2.604 without.

60 Bloom (1990) In fact, long subjects (lexical subjects), short subjects (pronouns), and null subjects correlated with an increase in VP length as well. In fact, long subjects (lexical subjects), short subjects (pronouns), and null subjects correlated with an increase in VP length as well.

61 Bloom (1990) As for why subjects are dropped more frequently than objects by kids at this stagewhy? As for why subjects are dropped more frequently than objects by kids at this stagewhy? Two possibilities? Two possibilities? Subjects tend to be given (old) information (low informativeness, more expendable) Subjects tend to be given (old) information (low informativeness, more expendable) Maybe processing saves the heaviest load for last Maybe processing saves the heaviest load for last

62 Hyams & Wexler (1993) Blooms (1990) approach (processing) cant be right either. Blooms (1990) approach (processing) cant be right either. The difference between subjects and objects is big, and only rate of subject drop changes. The difference between subjects and objects is big, and only rate of subject drop changes. Adam & Eve both drop around 40-50% of their subjects in an early stage, and in a later stage are down to 15-30%meanwhile their rate of object drop stays around 5-10%. Adam & Eve both drop around 40-50% of their subjects in an early stage, and in a later stage are down to 15-30%meanwhile their rate of object drop stays around 5-10%.

63 Hyams & Wexler (1993) Informativeness? Informativeness? All else being equal, the ratio of missing subjects to specific subjects should be equal to the ratio of missing objects to specific objects. All else being equal, the ratio of missing subjects to specific subjects should be equal to the ratio of missing objects to specific objects. Turns out that kids drop specific subjects about twice as often (Adam 52%) as they drop specific objects (Adam 21%). Turns out that kids drop specific subjects about twice as often (Adam 52%) as they drop specific objects (Adam 21%).

64 Hyams & Wexler (1993) Considering Italian adults, we find exactly the same correlation Bloom reported for English kids: VP seems to be longer where there is null subject, shorter with a pronoun, and shorter still with a lexical subject. Considering Italian adults, we find exactly the same correlation Bloom reported for English kids: VP seems to be longer where there is null subject, shorter with a pronoun, and shorter still with a lexical subject.

65 Hyams & Wexler (1993) Regardless of why the correlation holds, if it is a processing deficiency in kids, what is it for the Italian adults? Regardless of why the correlation holds, if it is a processing deficiency in kids, what is it for the Italian adults? Seems like kids act like theyre speaking a language where the null subject is a grammatical option. Note: might be slightly different from a null subject language though. Point: dropping subjects is grammatical for these kids, not an error. Seems like kids act like theyre speaking a language where the null subject is a grammatical option. Note: might be slightly different from a null subject language though. Point: dropping subjects is grammatical for these kids, not an error.

66 Hyams & Wexler (1993) Consider the proportion of pronouns to lexical subjects. Consider the proportion of pronouns to lexical subjects. Output omission model would predict that younger kids would tend to drop more lexical subjects than pronouns, compared to the ratio they wind up at. Output omission model would predict that younger kids would tend to drop more lexical subjects than pronouns, compared to the ratio they wind up at. Grammatical omission model would predict that younger kids would tend to drop more pronouns (since some are being realized as null subjects) Grammatical omission model would predict that younger kids would tend to drop more pronouns (since some are being realized as null subjects)

67 Hyams & Wexler (1993) We find: Adam goes from about 3:1 in favor of lexical subjects (during subject drop stage) to 1:2 (after subject drop stage). Adam goes from about 3:1 in favor of lexical subjects (during subject drop stage) to 1:2 (after subject drop stage). When hes dropping subjects, they are coming out of the pronoun pilethe number of lexical subjects is staying about the same across development. When hes dropping subjects, they are coming out of the pronoun pilethe number of lexical subjects is staying about the same across development.

68 Hyams & Wexler (1993) Ok, so maybe pronouns are more difficult than lexical nouns? (Doesnt fit well with the length of VP result, but maybe…?) Ok, so maybe pronouns are more difficult than lexical nouns? (Doesnt fit well with the length of VP result, but maybe…?) Problem is: kids show a steady level of object pronouns throughout this time periodand output omission model doesnt have anything to say about subject vs. object. Problem is: kids show a steady level of object pronouns throughout this time periodand output omission model doesnt have anything to say about subject vs. object.

69 Hyams & Wexler (1993) Basic conclusion: Basic conclusion: Null subjects dont seem to arise in child language solely due to processing difficulty. Null subjects dont seem to arise in child language solely due to processing difficulty. Rather, they seem to be allowed in the child grammar. Rather, they seem to be allowed in the child grammar. This allows distinction between subject (high rate of omission) and object (low rate of omission) This allows distinction between subject (high rate of omission) and object (low rate of omission) Explains the tradeoff between null subjects and pronouns (and the VP length/subject correlation) if the prinnciples governing availability of subject drop are similar to those at work in Italian. Explains the tradeoff between null subjects and pronouns (and the VP length/subject correlation) if the prinnciples governing availability of subject drop are similar to those at work in Italian.

70 So what allows null subjects? Heres where we start to tie in to other properties of that age. Heres where we start to tie in to other properties of that age. Notice that in English (a non-null subject language) you can have a grammatical null subject in one context: Notice that in English (a non-null subject language) you can have a grammatical null subject in one context: I want [Ø to have a fire drill] I want [Ø to have a fire drill] [Ø to have a fire drill] would make my day. [Ø to have a fire drill] would make my day.

71 So what allows null subjects? Subjects of infinitives can be null. Subjects of infinitives can be null. Kids at the age where subjects are often missing often use infinitive verb forms. Kids at the age where subjects are often missing often use infinitive verb forms. Perhaps thats the key: Since kids can use infinitives where adults cant (main clause main verb), this allows them to use null subjects in those sentences as a side effect. Perhaps thats the key: Since kids can use infinitives where adults cant (main clause main verb), this allows them to use null subjects in those sentences as a side effect.

72 Proportion of null subjects in finite and non-finite clauses

73 Null subjects and infinitives Perhaps were on to something here. Perhaps were on to something here. So null subjects are (for the most part not completely) allowed by virtue of having infinitives. So null subjects are (for the most part not completely) allowed by virtue of having infinitives. What allows the infinitives in child language? What allows the infinitives in child language?

74 Several classes of theories No functional projections. (Radford) Kids dont have any functional projections (TP, CP, and so forth). This comes later. No TP, no tense distinction. No functional projections. (Radford) Kids dont have any functional projections (TP, CP, and so forth). This comes later. No TP, no tense distinction. Structure building. (Vainikka, Guilfoyle & Noonan) Kids start with no functional projections and gradually increase their functional structure. Structure building. (Vainikka, Guilfoyle & Noonan) Kids start with no functional projections and gradually increase their functional structure.

75 Several classes of theories Truncation. (Rizzi) Like structure building but without the time coursekids have access to all of the functional structure but they dont realize that sentences need to be CPs, so they sometimes stop early. Truncation. (Rizzi) Like structure building but without the time coursekids have access to all of the functional structure but they dont realize that sentences need to be CPs, so they sometimes stop early. ATOM (Full competence). (Wexler, …) Kids have access to all of the functional structure and have a very specific problem with tense and agreement that sometimes causes them to leave one out. ATOM (Full competence). (Wexler, …) Kids have access to all of the functional structure and have a very specific problem with tense and agreement that sometimes causes them to leave one out.

76 Several classes of theories Figuring out the differences in content and predictions between the theories is intricate and difficult, but in doing so, weve learned quite a bit more about the character of child syntax… Figuring out the differences in content and predictions between the theories is intricate and difficult, but in doing so, weve learned quite a bit more about the character of child syntax…

77 Radford (1995) A proposal about Early Child English. A proposal about Early Child English. Kids syntax differs from adults syntax: Kids syntax differs from adults syntax: kids use only lexical (not functional) elements kids use only lexical (not functional) elements structural sisters in kids trees always have a - relation between them. structural sisters in kids trees always have a - relation between them. VP NP V man V NP chasecar

78 adult syntax child syntax Adults:CPIPVP Adults:CPIPVP Kids:VP Kids:VP Evidence for absence of IP: Evidence for absence of IP: No modals (repeating, kids drop them) No modals (repeating, kids drop them) No auxiliaries (Mommy doing dinner) No auxiliaries (Mommy doing dinner) No productive use of tense & agreement (Baby ride truck, Mommy go, Daddy sleep) No productive use of tense & agreement (Baby ride truck, Mommy go, Daddy sleep)

79 Absence of CP No CP system: No CP system: no complementizers (that, for, if) no complementizers (that, for, if) no preposed auxiliary (car go?) no preposed auxiliary (car go?) no wh-movement (imitating where does it go? yields go?; spontaneous: mouse doing?) no wh-movement (imitating where does it go? yields go?; spontaneous: mouse doing?) kids bad at comprehending wh-object questions (out of canonical order). (What are you doing? No.) kids bad at comprehending wh-object questions (out of canonical order). (What are you doing? No.)

80 Absence of DP No DP system: No DP system: no non- elements no non- elements no expletives (raining, outside cold) no expletives (raining, outside cold) no of before noun complements of nouns (cup tea) no of before noun complements of nouns (cup tea) kids tend not to use determiners (Hayley draw boat, want duck, reading book) kids tend not to use determiners (Hayley draw boat, want duck, reading book) kids dont use possessive s, which may be a D. kids dont use possessive s, which may be a D. kids dont use pronouns, which are probably D. kids dont use pronouns, which are probably D.

81 So why does it happen this way? Why VP before IP/CP? Why VP before IP/CP? you have to know what the -grids of your verbs are before you can… (AR: move the subject to SpecIP)… even put the subject in the VP in the first place. Not an argument for why IP follows VPsimultaneous should satisfy this as well. you have to know what the -grids of your verbs are before you can… (AR: move the subject to SpecIP)… even put the subject in the VP in the first place. Not an argument for why IP follows VPsimultaneous should satisfy this as well. Kids start with VP and their system matures, admitting IP and CP at a later point. See also Vainikka (1993/4). Kids start with VP and their system matures, admitting IP and CP at a later point. See also Vainikka (1993/4).

82 So why does it happen this way? Why VP before IP/CP? Why VP before IP/CP? Language parameterization lies solely in features of functional heads (like I and C). Kids start with the non-parameterized part of grammar, and work their way up to the parameterized part. Butkids dont make word order errors; Japanese kids start talking SOV from the get-go, English kids SVO… Language parameterization lies solely in features of functional heads (like I and C). Kids start with the non-parameterized part of grammar, and work their way up to the parameterized part. Butkids dont make word order errors; Japanese kids start talking SOV from the get-go, English kids SVO…

83 The transition to IP Slightly older kids alternate between Nom subjects and Acc subjects, between finite verbs and nonfinite verbs. Slightly older kids alternate between Nom subjects and Acc subjects, between finite verbs and nonfinite verbs. One view: kids are code-switching between a VP grammar and an IP grammar. One view: kids are code-switching between a VP grammar and an IP grammar. If this is the case, we expect Nom subjects to occur in the IP grammar (with the finite verbs) and Acc subjects to occur in the VP grammar (with the nonfinite verbs). If this is the case, we expect Nom subjects to occur in the IP grammar (with the finite verbs) and Acc subjects to occur in the VP grammar (with the nonfinite verbs).

84 The transition to IP Radford says look, they dont: Radford says look, they dont: numerous nonfinite clauses with nominative subjects: I singing, I done it. numerous nonfinite clauses with nominative subjects: I singing, I done it. frequent finite clauses with accusative subjects: Me can make a hen, Me didnt paint that. frequent finite clauses with accusative subjects: Me can make a hen, Me didnt paint that. But Schütze & Wexler (1996) show that the percentages are very skewed… So, it looks like predominantly, yes, Nom goes with the IP grammar (properly construed). But Schütze & Wexler (1996) show that the percentages are very skewed… So, it looks like predominantly, yes, Nom goes with the IP grammar (properly construed).

85 Finiteness vs. case errors Loeb & Leonard (1991) subjectFiniteNonfinite he+she43675 him+her428 % non-Nom0.9%27%

86 Finiteness vs. case errors Schütze & Wexler (1996) Nina subjectFiniteNonfinite I255139 me+my14120 % non-Nom5%46%

87 The problem so far Look for numbers, see if you find any. Radford does not do a very good job of convincing us that what hes telling us about is representative. He only tells us that it is attested. Look for numbers, see if you find any. Radford does not do a very good job of convincing us that what hes telling us about is representative. He only tells us that it is attested. Well have more to say about case errors and finiteness. Well have more to say about case errors and finiteness.

88 The transition to CP It has been observed that even after kids can invert yes-no questions… It has been observed that even after kids can invert yes-no questions… Did you want that one? Did you want that one? …they fail to invert in wh-questions …they fail to invert in wh-questions What he can ride in? What he can ride in? Radford suggests: C comes in two flavors,verbal and nonverbalroot clauses are verbal, embedded clauses are nonverbal, and I will not move to C if C is nonverbal. Radford suggests: C comes in two flavors,verbal and nonverbalroot clauses are verbal, embedded clauses are nonverbal, and I will not move to C if C is nonverbal.

89 The transition to CP Kids have C which isnt specified either for verbal or for nonverbal. Kids have C which isnt specified either for verbal or for nonverbal. The rule about moving I to C doesnt mention unspecified C, so I can move to unspecified C. The rule about moving I to C doesnt mention unspecified C, so I can move to unspecified C. But, if a wh-word moves into SpecCP, then Spec-head agreement with the nonverbal wh-word gives C a nonverbal feature, prohibiting I to C movement. But, if a wh-word moves into SpecCP, then Spec-head agreement with the nonverbal wh-word gives C a nonverbal feature, prohibiting I to C movement.

90 The transition to CP The problem here is that there is no independent evidence. The problem here is that there is no independent evidence. Plus, kids are supposed to be having trouble with subject agreement between I and SpecIPat the same time that they seem to be perfectly able to effect agreement between C and SpecCP…? Plus, kids are supposed to be having trouble with subject agreement between I and SpecIPat the same time that they seem to be perfectly able to effect agreement between C and SpecCP…?

91 For next time: Read Radford (1995) Read Radford (1995) Write up a 1-2 page summary of Radford 1995: Write up a 1-2 page summary of Radford 1995: What are his main points? What are his main points? What is the evidence for each point? What is the evidence for each point? Is this evidence convincing? If not, why not? Is this evidence convincing? If not, why not?


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