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Dissertation Information


Title: The Acquisition of Verb Second Grammar in Child Swedish: Continuity of Universal Grammar in Wh-questions, topicalization and verb raising Add Dissertation
Author: Lynn Santelmann Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Ohio State University, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 1995
Linguistic Subfield(s): Syntax;
Subject Language(s): Swedish
Director(s): John Whitman
Wayne Harbert
Barbara Lust
John Bowers

Abstract: This study links acquisition data with linguistic theory in examining Verb Second (V2) in child Swedish, with the goal of beginning to determine which aspects of V2 are derived from Universal Grammar and which are due to language specific mechanisms. This study presents new cross-sectional and longitudinal natural speech data (Santelmann corpora) and a new analysis of data from the Project Child Language Syntax corpus (Svderbergh (1975)). This investigation seeks specifically to determine, with particular reference to the functional category CP, whether children in the early periods of language acquisition have access to the full inventory of structures and principles available in the underlying Universal Grammar, or whether these structures develop or 'mature' in the course of acquisition. It is demonstrated that movement, in conjunction with functional morphology, can provide evidence for the existence of functional categories in child Swedish. This also study demonstrates that the properties of Xo and XP movement in child Swedish are sometimes different from those in adult Swedish in ways that shed light on the structure of the adult grammar.

The major results of this study are: (1) Child Swedish shows evidence of early knowledge of verb and XP movement to CP in V2 constructions, indicating continuity of this category. (2) Errors in verb movement vary depending on the XP preceding the verb -- being rare in wh-questions, somewhat more frequent in declarative topicalization, and common in subject initial sentences. This indicates that the features of the fronted XP 'trigger' verb movement in adult Swedish, and that each of these XPs has different features that trigger verb movement. (3) Child Swedish uses a null wh-operator, whose presence is allowed by universal principles, and whose use is determined by the need to integrate Swedish specific lexicon, licensing of operators, and prosody. This demonstrates that development in child Swedish does not involve development of phrase structure principles or movement, but the integration of these with language specific properties of Swedish. (Grammatical Mapping, Boser, Santelmann, Barbier & Lust (1995)).