Child Language Acquisition

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This chapter focuses on the acquisition of Spanish as a first language by healthy monolingual children. The results reported from the literature start with the acquisition of basic syntactic features, namely the presence of null subjects and subject-verb agreement, and one construction which has been particularly fruitful in the studies on the acquisition of Romance: the clitic construction; the results for European Spanish were critical in showing how clitic omission is not a pervasive phenomenon in child grammar, but confined to languages in which the derivation of clitic constructions involves particular syntactic operations. Beyond monoclausal structures, the studies on two long distance phenomena, wh- questions and relative clauses, show that children are generally adult-like from early on, with some deviant productions involving copying. In the last section I consider an area that has become more prominent in recent years: the field of semantic/pragmatic research (I review work on the interpretation of unos and algunos ‘some’, and their implicatures; genericity; and the interaction of aspect and verb type) and I anticipate some lines of future inquiry. The common denominator of the studies reported is the high sensitivity of young children to the language-specific properties of the language they are acquiring.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of Spanish Linguistics
EditorsKimberly L. Geeslin
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781316779194
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

Publication series

NameCambridge Handbooks of Linguistics
PublisherCambridge University Press


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