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Bookmark and Share Paper 2591

An Acquisition Procedure for Category Assignment: The Case of Dutch P°
Jacqueline van Kampen and Rianne Schippers
139-149 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


The present study presents clear and long-standing overgeneralizations of P-stranding in child Dutch in a longitudinal study of 7 Dutch children (CHILDES database). As Snyder (2007) argues, the child is a conservative learner that avoids overgeneralizing into supersets. One of his core cases is ±P(reposition)-stranding in English and Spanish. English allows P-stranding in wh-questions and the child follows this option from the beginning on, whereas Spanish does not allow P-stranding and the child always pied-pipes the Preposition in wh-questions. Snyder suggests that the child may be guided by a deeper property of the two languages. Dutch is an interesting case in between, in that it can both topicalize and wh-move a PP. Preposition stranding, though, is only possible when the complement is a non-animate pronoun marked for locality (r-pronouns: waar 'where', daar/er 'there'). This research argues the following. (i) Dutch is indeed 'compound-friendly'. (ii) Due to the frequent use of modal verbs, [P+V] adjacencies (P selected by V) occur very often in the input. (iii) The child frequently drops the object, whether the object of the Preposition (46%) or the object of the Particle+V (62%). (iv) By consequence, there is no obvious distinction for the learner between the two types of P (transitive Preposition and intransitive Particle). Both appear as the stranded element in [P+V] compounds. (v) The r-marking of pronominal non-animate P-objects comes in late. Due to these circumstances, the learner cannot be aware yet that she is getting into an overgeneralization. She sets, so to speak, P-stranding ([P+V] reanalysis) as a macro-parameter. Retreat from that is extremely slow (up into primary school).

Published in

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
Printed edition: $320.00