This paper studies the acquisition of the unaccusative verb gustar ('to like') by children learning Spanish as their L1. I analyzed spontaneous speech production from 5 Spanish speaking children from the CHILDES database. The data shows that children are able to use this construction as early as 1;10. This analysis provides strong evidence against Borer and Wexler's (1987, 1992) Maturation Hypothesis, and supports Wexler's (1996) Very Early Parameter Setting, in particular the claim that Spanish children have the Quirky Subject Parameter (Landau 2010) set before age 2. The data analyzed in this project also corroborate the Continuity Hypothesis (Pinker 1984: 6): "the null hypothesis in developmental psychology is that the cognitive mechanisms of children and adults are identical." The conclusion is that children's ability to use the unaccusative structure with the verb gustar comes from UG and is not subject to maturation but is immediately available to the child.
Selected Proceedings of the 4th Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA 2010)
edited by Mihaela Pirvulescu, María Cristina Cuervo, Ana T. Pérez-Leroux, Jeffrey Steele, and Nelleke Strik Table of contents
ISBN 978-1-57473-447-8 library binding
vi + 285 pages
publication date: 2011
published by Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville, MA, USA