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ERIC Number: ED338055
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1990-Jul
Pages: 9
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
What's Missing in Dutch?
Weverink, Meike
An often-noted contrast between child and adult language is that young children produce sentences both with and without lexical subjects even if subjects are obligatory in the adult system. However, in Dutch, there is no such structural difference between the earliest stages of Dutch child grammar and the adult stage where subjects are concerned. The missing subjects in finite structures can not be explained by a prodrop theory. Predictions made with the prodrop theory for Spanish or Italian do not occur in Dutch. Instead, a "topic-drop" theory can explain missing subjects, which occur only in finite sentences when the verb is in first position. In addition, Dutch developmental facts contradict the hypothesis that Dutch children have no sense of verbal inflection of subject-verb agreement. In fact, they appear to have this at an early age. There is no difference between Dutch child and adult language in non-finite structures where there are no person-number features. While there is a subtle difference in possible illocutionary forces in children's topic-comment structures, compared to adults', the systematic difference is non-syntactic, and similar patterns are found in German. Therefore, proposals to explain missing subjects in English through lack of inflection should be re-examined. (MSE)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A