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May I Quote You on That?

By Stephen Spector

A guide to English grammar and usage for the twenty-first century, pairing grammar rules with interesting and humorous quotations from American popular culture.

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Academic Paper

Title: Can input explain children's me-for-I errors?
Author: Minna Kirjavainen
Institution: University of Manchester
Author: Anna L. Theakston
Institution: University of Manchester
Author: Elena V. Lieven
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Abstract: English-speaking children make pronoun case errors producing utterances where accusative pronouns are used in nominative contexts (me do it). We investigate whether complex utterances in the input (Let me do it) might explain the origin of these errors. Longitudinal naturalistic data from seventeen English-speaking two- to four-year-olds was searched for 1psg accusative-for-nominative case errors and for all 1psg preverbal pronominal contexts. Their caregivers' data was also searched for 1psg preverbal pronominal contexts. The data show that the children's proportional use of me-for-I errors correlated with their caregivers' proportional use of me in 1psg preverbal contexts. Furthermore, the verbs that children produced in me-error utterances appeared in complex sentences containing me in the input more often than verbs that did not appear in me-for-I errors in the children's speech. These findings are discussed in the context of current explanations for children's case marking errors.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 36, Issue 5, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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