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ERIC Number: EJ782837
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jan
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 24
ISSN: ISSN-1048-9223
Object Drop in Japanese and Korean
O'Grady, William; Yamashita, Yoshie; Cho, Sookeun
Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, v15 n1 p58-68 Jan 2008
Languages can differ in fundamental ways with respect to the syntax of sentences with a "missing" direct object. Whereas Japanese and Korean permit null direct objects that are licensed under general discourse conditions (the recoverability of the referent from context) without regard for choice of verb, object ellipsis in English obeys lexical constraints that license deletion for some verbs, but not others. Interestingly, Theakston et al.'s (2001) findings suggest that children learning English adopt an item-by-item approach to object ellipsis, apparently from the outset. The authors' concern in this paper is with the question of whether children's success reflects a generalized strategy of lexical learning. This question can be addressed, at least indirectly, by considering the development of null direct objects in Japanese and Korean, where an early insight into the phenomenon's character would lead children to actually avoid item-by-item learning. Crucially, this is exactly what the authors' data show: there is no evidence at all from children's speech that early direct object use in those languages is sensitive to information--accumulated or just observed--about the usage of individual verbs in maternal speech. At an age comparable to that of Theakston et al.'s subjects, children acquiring Japanese and Korean obey a general discourse constraint on the use of null objects, suggesting a sensitivity to a higher-level generalization rather than to item-by-item properties of the input. (Contains 8 tables and 6 footnotes.)
Lawrence Erlbaum. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A