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Academic Paper


Title: The acquisition of German relative clauses: A case study*
Author: Silke Brandt
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Author: Holger Diessel
Institution: Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Author: Michael Tomasello
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Syntax
Subject Language: German
Abstract: This paper investigates the development of relative clauses in the speech of one German-speaking child aged 2 ; 0 to 5 ; 0. The earliest relative clauses we found in the data occur in topicalization constructions that are only a little different from simple sentences: they contain a single proposition, express the actor prior to other participants, assert new information and often occur with main-clause word order. In the course of the development, more complex relative constructions emerge, in which the relative clause is embedded in a fully-fledged main clause. We argue that German relative clauses develop in an incremental fashion from simple non-embedded sentences that gradually evolve into complex sentence constructions.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 35, Issue 2.

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