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The Acquisition of Word Order and Its Constraints in Kaqchikel: A Preliminary Study
Koji Sugisaki, Koichi Otaki, Noriaki Yusa, and Masatoshi Koizumi
72-78 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This study attempts to address the question of whether the early acquisition of word-order constraints can be observed in the acquisition of Kaqchikel, a Mayan language that is argued to have the basic order of VOS but still exhibits flexible word order. According to Broadwell (2000) and Broadwell & Smith (2001), the verb-initial sentences in Kaqchikel exhibit certain ordering principles for the postverbal NPs. If a transitive verb is followed by two NPs with equal degrees of definiteness, then both VOS and VSO orders are grammatical and hence the relevant sentences are ambiguous. In contrast, if one of these NPs is definite and the other is indefinite, then the definite NP must follow the indefinite NP and must also be interpreted as the subject, thereby leading to the obligatory VOS interpretation. The results of the truth-value judgment experiment with 10 Kaqchikel-speaking children, even though quite preliminary, suggest that Kaqchikel-speaking four-year-olds have knowledge of this definiteness restrictions imposed on the V-initial sentences.

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
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Printed edition: $320.00