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Adult-like Passives in Child English: Evidence from Judgments of Purpose Phrases
Jean Crawford
42-50 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Advocates of the Maturation Hypothesis propose that the 'passives' seen in early child English are not adult-like verbal passives, but rather an adjectival construction with simpler syntax (Borer and Wexler 1987, Babyonyshev et al 2001). One way to disambiguate verbal and adjectival passives in English is to make use of the purpose phrase licensing properties associated with the implicit argument (IMP) in short verbal passives. Children provided grammaticality judgments for 5 verbs (bake, break, grow, light, sink) in 4 different constructions (active progressive, passive progressive, inchoative progressive, inchoative present). The results argue against an adjectival strategy/maturation account for early passives.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 5th Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA 2012)
edited by Chia-Ying Chu, Caitlin E. Coughlin, Beatriz Lopez Prego, Utako Minai, and Annie Tremblay
Table of contents
Printed edition: $320.00