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A-chains and Unaccusative-Unergative Distinction in the Child Grammar: The Acquisition of Japanese Te-iru Constructions
Hiroyuki Shimada and Tetsuya Sano
386-393 (complete paper or proceedings contents)

Abstract

Since Borer and Wexler (1987) proposed the A-chain Maturation Hypothesis, a number of acquisition studies have argued for or against the hypothesis. To explain the fact that young children successfully produce and comprehend unaccusatives (cf. Borer and Wexler 1987, Borer and Wexler 1992, Babyonyshev et al. 2001, Sano 2000, Sano et al. 2001) which involve an A-chain, Borer and Wexler (1987), Borer and Wexler (1992), and Machida et al. (2004) claim that young children utilize the structure of unergatives to interpret unaccusatives. This is known as the Unergative Misanalysis Hypothesis. According to Takezawa (1991), the meaning of the Japanese aspect construction te-iru is roughly classified into the progressive reading and the resultative reading, and te-iru allows the resultative reading only when a sentence involves an A-binding relation (between the subject and the object). Therefore, the resultative reading is possible in unaccusatives but impossible in unergatives. The Unergative Misanalysis predicts that children before A-chain maturation reject the resultative reading in unaccusatives, unlike adults. However, contrary to the prediction, this study shows that even 3-year-old children accept the resultative reading with unaccusatives but disallow it with unergatives. Thus, this study gives arguments against the Unergative Misanalysis Hypothesis and the A-chain Maturation Hypothesis.

Published in

Proceedings of the 2nd Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA)
edited by Alyona Belikova, Luisa Meroni, and Mari Umeda
Table of contents
Printed edition: $320.00