Linguistics in Göttingen - A platform for empirical and theoretical linguistics

Rosalind Thornton (Macquarie University) - Children's Negative Sentences: A Pronunciation Challenge

Children's non-adult productions are of particular interest to linguists because they may be used to argue that the children are accessing Universal Grammar rather than basing their hypotheses on experience alone. Children's non-adult productions also have the potential to inform linguistic theory. Both 2- 3-year-old children and 5-year-old children with Specific Language Impairment produce many non-target negative sentences before they acquire the adult form with do-support (e.g. Tigger doesn't fit). Prior to acquiring do-support, children produce sentences such as Tigger not fit, in which the 3rd person singular "s" is dropped, and also utterances with the 3rd person singular morpheme misplaced, such as Tigger's not fit and Tigger not fits (Thornton & Rombough 2015). I will report on joint work with Terje Lohndal that analyses these non-target productions using insights from Zeijlstra (2004, 2008) and Adger (2003).