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Subjects in children’s object relatives in Italian

Publication: Revue roumaine de linguistique, LVII (2), p. 117-142
Publisher:Editura Academiei
Abstract:We first review the results from a number of experiments with Italian children and adults presented in previous work (Belletti and Contemori 2010, Contemori and Belletti, submitted), investigating the production of Subject (SRs) and Object relative clauses (ORs). We confirm passive as the preferred strategy adopted by children from age 5 when ORs are elicited in the production experiments. We then investigate further aspects of children's results that we did not previously address in detail. First, we analyse the ORs produced by children, focusing on the nature (overt/null) and position (pre/post-verbal) of the subject within the relative clause. Furthermore, we explore the emergence of the passive and the decrease of ORs with post-verbal subjects observed at age 5 as two related phenomena. Finally, we present results from a new preference production task which indicate that post-verbal subjects are preferably adopted by children in a felicitous way given the discourse pragmatics of the design. Null subjects are also produced in an adequate way. In the conditions adopted, in which the subject of the relative clause is a 1st or a 3rd person pronominal (active), ORs appear to be relatively easily produced by both younger and older children. We discuss the comparison of these new results with the previous ones and their relevance for the adopted featural approach to locality along the lines of Friedmann et al. (2009).
Language: English

Citations to this publication: 2

References in this publication: 1

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