'Living with Optionality': Root Infinitives, Bare Forms and Inflected Forms in Child Null Subject Languages
Juana Liceras, Aurora Bel, and Susana Perales
203-216 (complete paper
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This paper argues that there is a universal root infinitive (RI) stage that is linked to the morphological realization and the typological distribution of two specific features in the various natural languages. Drawing on Hyams' (2001) Semantic Opposition Hypothesis, which states that children map meanings onto inflectional elements on the basis of a semantic hierarchy in which mood (realis versus irrealis) represents the most primitive opposition, it is shown that children learning null subject languages (Spanish, Catalan, Basque) also go through a RI stage, albeit shorter than that of non-null subject languages. Moreover, it is proposed that the length of this stage and the semantic interpretation of RIs depends (1) on the morphological realization of the features Person and Infinitive in a given language, and (2) on the [+/- pronominal] value of the feature Person.
Selected Proceedings of the 9th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Nuria Sagarra and Almeida Jacqueline Toribio
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