Optional structures in the acquisition of Polish [Elektronische Ressource] : a cross-linguistic perspective / vorgelegt von Almut Klepper-Pang
170 Pages
English

Optional structures in the acquisition of Polish [Elektronische Ressource] : a cross-linguistic perspective / vorgelegt von Almut Klepper-Pang

Downloading requires you to have access to the YouScribe library
Learn all about the services we offer

Description

Optional Structures in the Acquisition of Polish:A Cross-Linguistic PerspectiveVon der Philosophisch-Historischen Fakultät der Universität Stuttgartzur Erlangung der Würde eines Doktors derPhilosophie (Dr. phil.) genehmigte AbhandlungVorgelegt vonAlmut Klepper-Pangaus Minden / Westf.Hauptberichter: Prof. Ian Roberts, PhDMitberichter: Prof. Dr. Christiane Schaner-WollesProf. Dr. Grzegorz DogilTag der mündlichen Prüfung: 2. Oktober 2003Institut für Linguistik / Anglistik der Universität Stuttgart2003A Journey of Thousand Milesbegins with the First Step.千里之行, 始于足下. (Chinese Proverb)To those who joined me on this journeyTo my parents, my children Matthias and Julia and my husband Peter.- 3 -Contents7Chapter 1: Introductory Remarks................................................................…13Chapter 2: Reflections on the Course of Language Acquisition……………….132.0 Introduction………………………………………………………………….132.1 Concepts of language: E-language vs. I-language…………………………..162.2 The Innateness Hypothesis and the Poverty of the Stimulus Argument……182.3 The Principles and Parameters Approach…………………………………..212.4 Conclusion…………………………………………………………………..23Chapter 3: The Nature of Early Child Grammar: Theories & Hypotheses…..233.0 Introduction………………………………………………………………….243.1 Small Children’s Small Grammars: The Small Clause Hypothesis………..273.2 Functional Categories in Child Grammar: The Full Competence Hypothesis303.

Subjects

Informations

Published by
Published 01 January 2003
Reads 23
Language English

Optional Structures in the Acquisition of Polish:
A Cross-Linguistic Perspective
Von der Philosophisch-Historischen Fakultät der Universität Stuttgart
zur Erlangung der Würde eines Doktors der
Philosophie (Dr. phil.) genehmigte Abhandlung
Vorgelegt von
Almut Klepper-Pang
aus Minden / Westf.
Hauptberichter: Prof. Ian Roberts, PhD
Mitberichter: Prof. Dr. Christiane Schaner-Wolles
Prof. Dr. Grzegorz Dogil
Tag der mündlichen Prüfung: 2. Oktober 2003
Institut für Linguistik / Anglistik der Universität Stuttgart
2003A Journey of Thousand Miles
begins with the First Step.
千里之行, 始于足下.
(Chinese Proverb)
To those who joined me on this journey
To my parents, my children Matthias and Julia and my husband Peter.- 3 -
Contents
7Chapter 1: Introductory Remarks................................................................…
13Chapter 2: Reflections on the Course of Language Acquisition……………….
132.0 Introduction………………………………………………………………….
132.1 Concepts of language: E-language vs. I-language…………………………..
162.2 The Innateness Hypothesis and the Poverty of the Stimulus Argument……
182.3 The Principles and Parameters Approach…………………………………..
212.4 Conclusion…………………………………………………………………..
23Chapter 3: The Nature of Early Child Grammar: Theories & Hypotheses…..
233.0 Introduction………………………………………………………………….
243.1 Small Children’s Small Grammars: The Small Clause Hypothesis………..
273.2 Functional Categories in Child Grammar: The Full Competence Hypothesis
303.3 Optionality in Child Languages: Properties of Optional Infinitives…………...
353.4 Accounts of Optional Infinitives……………………………………………………
393.5 Open Problems: Implications for the Research Questions of this study……..
423.6 Conclusion…………………………………………………………………….
43Chapter 4: The Target Language: An Outline of Polish………………………...
434.0 Introduction………………………………………………………………….
444.1 Brief Typological Sketch of Polish…………………………………………...
454.2 Basic Characteristics of Morphology…………………………………………
474.3 The Verbal Paradigm: Finiteness and Verbal Conjugation Patterns………..
514.4 The Pronominal System and the pro drop-Status of Polish………………….
534.5 Conclusion…………………………………………………………………….- 4 -
Contents
54Chapter 5 The Study: Polish Acquisition Data
545.0 Introduction
545.1 Methodology…………………………………………………………………
555.1.1 Design of the Empirical Study……………………………………………….
565.1.2 Longitudinal Data…………………………………………………………….
575.1.3 Spontaneous Speech Criteria………………………………………………...
585.1.4 Transliteration and Data Annotation………………………………………….
605.2 The Database………………………………………………………………….
615.2.1 The Dagmara-Corpus…………………………………………………………
625.2.2 The Anna-Corpus……………………………………………………………...
645.2.3 The Aleksandra-Corpus……………………………………………………….
665.3 Data Classification, Encoding and Evaluation..................................................
665.3.1 Sorting and Classification of the Data………………………………………...
675.3.2 Variables in the Data Evaluation Scheme…………………………………………
745.3.3 A Two-Dimensional System of Data Analysis………………………………..
755.4 From Counts to Analysis: Research Questions……………………………….
785.5 Conclusion…………………………………………………………………….
Chapter 6: Results of the Data Analysis……….…………………………………. 79
6.0 Introduction…………………………………………………………………... 79
6.1 Optional Infinitives in Polish? – The Distribution of Finiteness……………... 79
6.1.1 Starting Point of the Analysis………………………………………………… 79
6.1.2 Distribution of Finiteness in all three Corpora……………………………….. 80
6.1.3 The Interpretation of Main Clause Infinitives: Context Analyses……………. 86
6.1.4 Summary……………………………………………………………………… 91
6.2 A Glance at the Earliest Stage of Acquisition………………………………... 93
6.2.1 Dealing with Early Speech Data: Aleksandra-Corpus……………………….. 94
6.2.2 The Nature of Earliest Verb Utterances (One- and Two-Word Stage)………. 94
6.2.3 The Development of Subject-Verb Agreement………………………………. 97
6.2.4 Mechanisms in the Early Formation of Grammar:
Cross-linguistic Evidence for Surrogate Verb Forms…………………………… 99- 5 -
Contents
Chapter 6: Results of the Data Analysis (cont.):
1026.3 The Realization of Subjects in the Aleksandra-Corpus……………………..
1036.3.1 The Distribution of Null- vs. Overt Subjects………………………………..
1066.3.2 Subject Type: NP vs. Pronominal Subject…………………………………..
1116.3.3 Comparison with Adult Speech (Control-Group)…………………………...
1146.3.4 Deriving Syntactic Dependencies in the Aleksandra-Corpus……………….
1206.3.5 The Realization of Subjects: A Cross-Linguistic Comparison……………...
1256.4 Conclusion…………………………………………………………………..
129Chapter 7: Polish Child Data in a Cross-Linguistic Context…………………
137Appendix:……………………………………………………………………………..
Data Evaluation Scheme……………………………………………………………………… 138
Results of Data Evaluation (Aleksandra-Corpus, files 10-37):
Table 1, files Aleks 10-14…………………………………………………………….. 140
Table 2, files Aleks 15-19…………………………………………………………….. 142
Table 3, files Aleks 20-24…………………………………………………………….. 144
Table 4, files Aleks 25-29…………………………………………………………….. 146
Table 5 files Aleks 30-34…………………………………………………………….. 148
Table 6, files Aleks 35-37…………………………………………………………….. 150
References………………………………………………………………………….. 152
Zusammenfassung………………………………………………………………….. 162
Abstract…………………..…………… 166- 6 -- 7 -
Chapter 1: Introductory Remarks
Much recent research on first language acquisition has focused on the phenomenon of
optionality in early child grammar. The nature of optionality in child grammars is an issue
that is still far from being settled, as the following recent statement by Nina Hyams (in her
talk at BUCLD, see Hyams (2001:34)) illustrates:
In one form or another the issue of optionality has been at the forefront of research
into grammatical development for many years, especially as regards the child’s use of
functional elements. While the adult language may require the overt appearance of
D(et) elements such as subjects and determiners and I(nfl) elements such as auxiliaries
and verbal finiteness, children freely omit them in their speech. Despite the apparent
pervasiveness of optional rules in early grammar, optionality is rather mysterious.
Why is a rule that is obligatory in the adult grammar optional for the child? Optional
rules raise problems both from a linguistic-theoretic perspective and from a
learnability perspective.
Linguistic theory has moved away from the optional rules of the Standard Theory
(Chomsky 1965). Within current theory, optional processes are ruled out by licensing
principles or by economy considerations (Chomsky 1992).
From the perspective of a restrictive continuity hypothesis, we have to ask why the
child’s grammar would allow such rules?
Moreover, optionality raises issues of learnability: if rules which are optional for the
child are obligatory for the adult, the move from the child to adult grammar runs into a
potential subset situation.
This is the puzzle of any study within the framework of optionality.
The idea for the topic of this thesis came up during the “Optional Infinitive Stage” of first
language acquisition studies themselves, so to say, i.e. when research around the Optional
1Infinitive Phenomenon was becoming more and more popular . Following Wexler (1994), a
number of studies have addressed, and are still addressing, different aspects related to the
phenomenon of optionality in different child languages.

1 I would like to thank Sten Vikner and Ken Wexler for encouraging me to tackle this project in the first place.
Special thanks to Sten for passing his enthusiasm for linguistics on to me (and many others who attended his
lectures), and to Ken for showing so much interest in my work which he accompanied with many helpful
comments and inspiring discussion, and for sending me all the current research papers from MIT.
I would also like to thank my supervisors Ian Roberts, Chris Schaner-Wolles and Grzegorz Dogil for their
support and encouragement, as well as for many fruitful discussions and comments.- 8 -
A major case of optionality can be found in verbal inflection: there seems to be a stage
(around the age of 2;0) in which two verbal forms appear to exist in declarative main clauses:
the adult-like finite form and an optional (root) infinitive that is ungrammatical in the target
language. This stage, which is generally referred to as Optional Infinitive (OI) Stage (Wexler
(1994)), has been observed in a number of languages, for instance Dutch, English, German
and French. On the other hand, there are languages (such as Italian, Spanish and Tamil) which
do not show the Optional Infinitive phenomenon.
The aim of this thesis is to contribute to the cross-linguistic discussion on OIs by providing
empirical evidence from Polish, a rich-agreement language, which has not yet been analysed
in this respect. Essentially, each form of the verbal paradigm in Polish is distinctly marked for
person, number, and, in some tenses, also gender. In contrast to the Germanic languages, the
infinitive represents a highly marked form in the Polish paradigm. Therefore, the study of the
OI phenomenon in Polish seems to be of both empirical and theoretical interest: in addition to
extending the previous empirical findings to a Slavic language, it might also shed light on the
theoretical cross-linguistic OI-generalization proposed in the literature.
This thesis is based on a longitudinal study of Polish child language data which I collected in
2Gdansk / Poland over a period of three years. The aim of this empirical study was to collect
naturalistic, conversational data (matching the spontaneous speech criteria) from three
children:
Dagmara: recordings between the age of 2;2 and 3;2.
Anna: recorded from 1;11 to 2;11.
Aleksandra: recordings between the age of 1;4 and 3;3.
Of the three corpora, the third set of data, the Aleksandra-Corpus, is of special interest since it
covers data from the very beginning of child language production, thereby providing an
insight into the earliest stages of language development.

2 I am greatly indebted to my Polish collaborators for all their commitment in making our project work – a
complex task that seemed impossible to realize at first. I would like to thank the families who accepted the
tough job of reliably recording their children’s speech at regular intervals and then assisting in the diffcult and
time-consuming process of transliteration and data annotation: my special thanks go to Agnieszka Mackiewicz,
Beata Pluci ńska, Jarek Pluci ński and Ma\gorzata Paczkowska. I would also like to thank Krystyna and Andrzej
Szczud\o for helping me to select the children and their families in Gda ńsk. Finally, I wish to thank Anna
Tomczyk and Magdalena Kita for the effort they spent on the transliterations as well as for their native speaker
judgments on the data.- 9 -
In a nutshell, the three corpora are analysed with respect to the following research questions:
1. Existence of Optional Infinitives / main clause infinitives and possible constraints
on their appearance; distribution of finite vs. non-finite forms
2. The onset of verbal inflection and its development in the earliest stages of
acquisition (Aleksandra-Corpus)
3. The realization of subjects and the distribution of null- vs. overt subjects; further
differentiation with respect to type of subject involved (lexical/nominal vs.
pronominal).
This thesis is organised as follows:
Following these introductory remarks, Chapter 2 lays the foundation for the theoretical
framework of first language acquisition (henceforth “L1”) studies. In the first section, I will
present the Chomskyan perspective which is adopted in this study, and outline his conception
of language acquisiton that distinguishes between I(nternal)-Language and E(xternal)-
Language. In the next section, I will follow the argument for the existence of an innate
language faculty that is linked to the Poverty of the Stimulus Argument. Apart from
introducing the basic concepts underlying this approach, I will then outline the implications of
the Principles-and-Parameters approach for language acquisition.
Chapter 3 reviews some of the theories and hypothesis on the nature of children’s early
grammatical system, notably the structure of early clauses and the presence of functional
categories. Having outlined the Small Clause Hypothesis and the Full Competence
Hypothesis, we will look at some evidence for structure-dependent relations in early child
grammar. Finally, we will consider the Optional Infinitive phenomenon and present some of
the accounts that have been proposed in the literature for this apparent deviation of the child
system from the target grammar.
In Chapter 4, we will outline some of the morphosyntactic properties of Polish, the target
language of the children analysed in our study. In this brief outline, I will confine myself to
those grammatical properties that are relevant to the acquisitional phenomena presented in