Although adjectives in English normally precede nouns, they must follow so-called indefinite pronouns (henceforth, InPros) like something, someone, and everything. This paper argues that English-speaking children aged three to four already have adult-like knowledge of this subtle point of grammar: Children do not over-generalize the 'Adj Noun' order to InPros, but instead use the 'InPro Adj' order that is required in the adult language. The results show that English-speaking children aged three to four already have adult-like knowledge of N-to-Num raising. This has the following implications: (a) Children know that English InPros are syntactically complex, because otherwise the incorrect 'Adj InPro' order would be expected; (b) their grammar has the functional categories D and Num, lending support to the Full Competence Hypothesis of Poeppel and Wexler (1993); and (c) their lack of word-order errors with InPros supports Snyder's (2007) claim of Grammatical Conservatism.
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