Article published in:Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory: Selected papers from ‘Going Romance’ Amsterdam 2007
Edited by Enoch Oladé Aboh, Elisabeth van der Linden, Josep Quer and Petra Sleeman
[Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 1] 2009
► pp. 51–66
Hebrew and Arabic children going Romance
On the acquisition of word order in Semitic and Romance
In Hebrew, European-Portuguese, Spanish, and Palestinian-Arabic both SV and VS orders are possible. In the early stages of sentence construction, however, children acquiring these languages do not use the whole array of word orders in their language. Their word order preference differs in the different languages: in the first stage, Hebrew and European-Portuguese children use both SV and VS orders with unaccusative verbs, but only SV with unergative and transitive verbs. In Spanish and Palestinian-Arabic, on the other hand, children prefer VS order with unaccusative, unergative, and transitive verbs. We propose an account according to which children at this stage cannot move the subject outside of VP yet, and the cross-linguistic difference stems from the identification of Spell-Out Domains (Fox & Pesetsky 2004a). Spanish and Palestinian-Arabic allow the verb to appear before the subject, whereas Hebrew and European-Portuguese do not allow the verb to move to I until the Spell-Out domain widens beyond VP, which takes place after subject movement to Spec,IP is acquired.
Published online: 19 November 2009
Cited by other publications
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Shetreet, Einat, Naama Friedmann & Uri Hadar
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