Chapter published in:On the Acquisition of the Syntax of Romance
Edited by Anna Gavarró
[Language Acquisition and Language Disorders 62] 2018
► pp. 7–29
French experiencer verbs and the Universal Freezing Hypothesis
The Universal Freezing Hypothesis (UFH) of Snyder and Hyams (2015) predicts that the developmental time course of English be-passives follows from younger children’s inability to make exceptions to the Freezing Principle, required for smuggling derivations, where mature speakers can. Recent research (Belletti & Rizzi, 2012) indicates that Object-Experiencer (OE) verbs, but not Subject-Experiencer (SE) verbs, require smuggling. We use French to test the resulting prediction of the UFH: mastery of French OE verbs should be late, after age 4, but SE verbs are mastered much earlier. Analysis of longitudinal spontaneous-speech data from 11 children acquiring French indicates that OE verbs are infrequent in children’s speech prior to age 4, while SE verbs are present earlier, usually by age 2.
Keywords: French, L1 acquisition, Relativized Minimality, experiencer verbs
Published online: 12 December 2018
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