On the 'underspecification' of functional categories in early grammars

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Children's early linguistic productions are typically characterized by the variable or null use of grammatical function items. These morphologically impoverished productions have frequently been interpreted as evidence for the rudimentary nature of early child grammars. Drawing on evidence from both English and Sesotho, this paper provides a sketch of a Metrical Model of Production that accounts for much of the reported omission and variability in children's early production of functional categories. The paper concludes that variable morphological' underspecification' is largely a reflection of children's incomplete productive capacities rather than a lack of grammatical competence.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSyntactic Theory and First Language Acquisition
Subtitle of host publicationCross-Linguistic Perspectives
EditorsB. Lust., M. Suñer., J. Whitman.
Place of PublicationHillsdale, N.J.
PublisherLawrence Erlbaum Associates
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


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