This chapter investigates the repertoire and the
uses of referring expressions in natural dialogues of 28
French-speaking children, aged between 1;7 and 2;6 years old. We
focus on three strong forms (nouns, strong demonstrative pronouns
and strong personal pronouns) and three weak forms (clitic personal
pronouns, null forms and fillers). Their uses are analyzed for the
following factors: the linguistic development, the type of referent
(participants vs. entities), the syntactic function, and the
attentional and discursive status of the referent. The results
reveal contrasted uses of referring expressions. Nouns are mainly
used for new or reintroduced referents, generally in syntactic
functions other than subject, whereas clitic personal pronouns (as
well as the other weak forms) are mainly used for given referents
and always as subjects. The type of referent (entities vs.
participants) also influences the use of referring expressions. The
discussion addresses the issue of the intertwining of morphological,
syntactic and pragmatic development.
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