Children's Insensitivity to Information from the Target of Agreement: The Case of Xhosa
Sandile Gxilishe, Mantoa Rose Smouse, Thabisa Xhalisa, and Jill de Villiers
46-53 (complete paper
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The paper presents an account of number agreement phenomena arguing that the target of agreement may be bleached of number information. This would explain why English-speaking children have difficulty relying on the target alone as a clue to number, despite producing it correctly. Xhosa has a very rich subject-verb agreement system and pro-drop, and there is theoretical dispute over its properties. An experiment with Xhosa-speaking children revealed that they, too, are unable to use the morpheme on the verb as a cue to subject number. It is argued that this may be further evidence that the morpheme is agreement rather than a clitic pronoun, but the claim is in need of further test.
Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA 2008)
edited by Jean Crawford, Koichi Otaki, and Masahiko Takahashi
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