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Case Errors in Child Japanese and the Implication for the Syntactic Theory
Keiko Murasugi and Eriko Watanabe
153-164 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This paper examines the errors in nominative Case assignment observed in Japanese acquisition. 2- to 3-year-old Japanese-speaking children sometimes erroneously mark the subject with the dative Case marker -ni, as in "A-tyan-*ni tabe-tyau yo (Adult form: A-tyan-ga)" "A-tyan will eat (it) up." (2;7). Based on the corpus analysis, longitudinal observation, and experimental studies, the authors argue that this type of Case error indicates the intermediate acquisition stage where children have the structure of VP-shell, the minimum requirement for θ-role assignment, and the structure of TP, but not the full system of nominative Case assignment of adult Japanese. The authors suggest that children employ the default inherent Case marker, -ni, on the subject NP, since the "Impersonal Parameter" (Ura 1996) is "unset". The age at which the optional Case errors are observed corresponds to the age at which the Optional Infinitives are observed in European languages. The correspondence might be interpreted as the children's deficits of AgrS (T).

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