This paper substantiates previous observations that French-speaking children produce more wh-in situ questions than their caregivers do. However, it argues against previous accounts (Zuckerman & Hulk 2001, Hamann 2006) which claimed that children overproduce wh-in situ questions because of Economy. Instead, this paper pursues the view that wh-in situ phrases are lower-order Topics that are backgrounded in their information status (Mathieu 2004). Thus, children's greater production of these forms is linked to children's overattribution of referents to the discourse common ground (Schaeffer & Matthewson 2005). In addition, frequency of wh-in situ in the input is ruled out as a major influence on children's rate of producing wh-in situ. English and French-speaking children hear similar rates of wh-in situ (in English they are echo questions), but the children produce vastly different rates of wh-in situ in their own speech.
Proceedings of the 6th Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA 2015)
edited by Laurel Perkins, Rachel Dudley, Juliana Gerard, and Kasia Hitczenko
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