In elicited-production studies of English negative questions (e.g. What don't you like?/What do you not like?), children often produce questions (e.g. *What do you don't like?) with an extra auxiliary (Guasti et al., 1995; Hiramatsu, 2003). Some researchers propose that the '2Aux' error stems from a misset 'Neg-in-IP' parameter (Guasti et al., 1995; Zuckerman, 2001). This study evaluates such parametric accounts by examining children's spontaneous speech. Longitudinal corpora for four children (CHILDES: Sarah, Lily, Violet, Mat) were searched for negative questions. Out of 110 negative questions, only two (<2%) contained an extra Aux. And both errors occurred after the child had already begun producing adult-like negative questions. The evidence from spontaneous speech thus runs directly counter to the predictions of a parametric account. We propose that the 2Aux error is ultimately a performance error: The 2Aux form results from a kind of "repair strategy" that permits a mislocated -n't to (at least) be pronounced.
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
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