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Syntactic Theory and the Acquisition of English Syntax: The Nature of Early Child Grammars of English

Syntactic Theory and the Acquisition of English Syntax: The Nature of Early Child Grammars of English by Andrew Radford

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Author: Andrew Radford
Book title: Syntactic Theory and the Acquisition of English Syntax: The Nature of Early Child Grammars of English
Category: Literature & Fiction
Rating: 4.1 / 5
ISBN: 0631163581
ISBN13: 978-0631163589
Pages: 320
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (January 8, 1991)
Language: English
Subcategory: History & Criticism
Other format: rtf lrf lrf docx

Between the ages of one-and-a-half and two years children start toform elementary phrases and clauses. This stage of their linguisticdevelopment provides the first clear evidence that they have begunto develop a grammar of the language being acquired. It istherefore of paramount importance for any attempt to construct atheory of language acquisition.Drawing data from a corpus of more that 100,000 spontaneousutterances, Andrew Radford demonstrates that the fundamentalcharacteristic of children's earliest structures is that they areessentially lexical and thematic in nature. They show evidence ofthe acqusition of lexical but not functional categories, and ofthematic but not nonthematic constituents. This hypothesis providesa unified account of a wide range of phenomena in early childEnglish including children's nonmastery of determiners,possessives, pronouns, missing arguments, expletives, case,binding, tense, agreement, auxiliaries, infinitives,complementisers, and movement phenomena.This detailed study of children's initial grammars suggests a modelof acquisition which is essentially maturational. Different modulesof the child's grammar come into operation at different stages ofdevelopment, triggered by relevant aspects of the child'sexperience. In this, Radford's account sheds significant light onsome of the fundamental questions for the theory of languageacquisition.

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