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Bookmark and Share Paper 2313

The 'Phased' Learnability of Long Wh-questions
Jacqueline van Kampen
127-138 (complete paper or proceedings contents)

Abstract

This paper discusses the learnability of long wh-questions. Taking longitudinal data from child Dutch as a case study, the author shows that the acquisition of long wh-movement has been thoroughly prepared in previous acquisition steps. Each step defines a local relation, and thereby a local domain, that is preserved in the next acquisition step. The long wh-questions in child language appear first with an intermediate pronoun in C (Thornton 1990, Van Kampen 1997). The Dutch data show how the intermediate pronoun relies on the (previously acquired) relative paradigm. This is obvious, since the Dutch relatives offer an apparently irregular mixture of d-pronouns and w-pronouns. The present view on the learnability of A-bar chains will lead to the following conclusions: (1) long wh-movement is successive cyclic from the very beginning on; (2) pied-piping of wh-phrases follows from the movement of a <+wh> head plus the preservation of its licensing contexts only; (3) syntactic islands as such are not "learned", but follow automatically from a non-overlap of local movement domains.

Published in

Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA 2008)
edited by Jean Crawford, Koichi Otaki, and Masahiko Takahashi
Table of contents
Printed edition: $320.00