Language Acquisition and Syntactic Theory

Language Acquisition and Syntactic Theory : A Comparative Analysis of French and English Child Grammars

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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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 175 pages
  • 157.5 x 226.1 x 22.9mm | 476.28g
  • Dordrecht, Netherlands
  • English
  • 1992 ed.
  • XI, 175 p.
  • 0792315537
  • 9780792315537

Table of contents

1. Language Acquisition and Syntactic Theory. 2. Word Order in Acquisition. 3. Negation. 4. Inflectional Affixation. 5. Pronominal Subjects. 6. Null Subjects. 7. Language Change. 8. A Comparative Look at Spanish Acquisition. 9. Conclusion. References. Index.
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