This paper examines the acquisition of number agreement within the Determiner Phrase (DP) and its correlation to a parametric feature in Brazilian Portuguese (BP): The existence of bare singular count nouns in argument position. Some of the questions addressed involve discussing what are the relevant stages in the acquisition of the structure of the DP and number, as well as how children treat the bare nouns syntactically. Longitudinal spontaneous production data from four children aged 1;8 to 3;7 were analyzed. Also, a Truth-value judgement task was applied to 9 children in order to assess their comprehension of generic sentences with bare count nouns. Results show that children go through different stages in the course of the development of number within the DP: (1) a default singular one, during which omission of determiners is found; (2) a stage when plural is morphologically marked, although in a non-adult-like form and (3) a stage when the child realizes that the Number head within the DP in BP is optional, thus licensing the generic sentences where a singular count noun is shifted into a kind.
Selected Proceedings of the 9th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Nuria Sagarra and Almeida Jacqueline Toribio
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