Accessing functional categories in Sesotho

interactions at the morpho-syntax interface

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Language acquisition studies have long noted that early acquisition patterns differ in important ways from those of adult speech. Specifically, early child language is full of what have generally been called ‘open class items’ (e.g. nouns, verbs), but relatively lacking in ‘closed class items’ (e.g. determiners, complementizers, etc.). Furthermore, early child language differs from adult language in that it seems to lack some types of movement (e.g. subject-aux inversion in English, verb movement in German). Drawing on recent developments in linguistic theory, where the organization of grammar is centered around Functional Categories such as DET, INFL, COMP and their projections (e.g. Abney, 1987; Fukui and Speas, 1985), it has been proposed that it is precisely these functional elements themselves that may be lacking from early child grammars (e.g. Radford, 1990; Guilfoyle and Noonan, 1988; see also Lebeaux, 1988). This would account for both the early lack of dosed class items, and the early lack of movement to these functional, or head, positions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Acquisition of Verb Placement
Subtitle of host publicationFunctional Categories and V2 Phenomena in Language Development
EditorsJürgen M. Meisel
Place of PublicationDordrecht
PublisherKluwer Academic Publishers
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9789401128032
ISBN (Print)9789401052450
Publication statusPublished - 1992

Publication series

NameStudies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics


  • corn
  • coherence
  • prefix
  • prep
  • poss

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    Demuth, K. (1992). Accessing functional categories in Sesotho: interactions at the morpho-syntax interface. In J. M. Meisel (Ed.), The Acquisition of Verb Placement: Functional Categories and V2 Phenomena in Language Development (pp. 83-107). (Studies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics; Vol. 16). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.