LINGUIST List 14.1308

Wed May 7 2003

Diss: Syntax/Language Acq: Blom "From Root..."

Editor for this issue: Steve Moran <>


  1. elma.blom, From Root Infinitive to Finite Sentence...

Message 1: From Root Infinitive to Finite Sentence...

Date: Wed, 07 May 2003 06:48:39 +0000
From: elma.blom <>
Subject: From Root Infinitive to Finite Sentence...

Institution: Utrecht University
Program: Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Elma Blom 

Dissertation Title: From root infinitive to finite sentence: the
acquisition of verbal inflections and auxiliaries

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field: Syntax
 Language Acquisition

Subject Language: English (code: ENG) 
 Dutch (code: DUT)

Dissertation Director 1: Paul van Geert
Dissertation Director 2: Henriette de Swart
Dissertation Director 3: Frank Wijnen

Dissertation Abstract: 

This study provides an in-depth analysis of the acquisition of verbal
inflections and auxiliaries by first language learners of Dutch and
English. On the basis of the observation that different types of
finite sentences are acquired at different stages in the development,
the author shows that children learn grammar incrementally. The rise
of finiteness leads to the disappearance of children's early nonfinite
clauses (root infinitives), accounts for changes in subject use and
explains the predominance of modal root infinitives. It is furthermore
argued that aspectual contrasts between finite sentences and root
infinitives follow from selection restrictions, cognitive immaturity
and patterns in the input, but are independent from grammatical
development. The empirical basis of this study is provided by
spontaneous speech data from six children acquiring Dutch. Data from
Dutch and English children collected in an experimental setting show
that differences in inflection and verb placement between two fairly
similar Germanic languages are present even at the earliest stages of
grammatical development.

>From Root Infinitive to Finite Sentence attempts to unravel how
children access abstract and hidden properties of their target
language. This book is of interest to scholars that work in the field
of language acquisition, developmental psychology, as well as to
linguists studying morpho-syntax.
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