Chapter published in:Complement Clauses in Portuguese: Syntax and acquisition
Edited by Ana Lúcia Santos and Anabela Gonçalves
[Issues in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics 17] 2018
► pp. 361–392
How Portuguese children interpret subject pronouns in complement clauses
Effects of mood selection and position of antecedent
This study aimed to verify if Portuguese children show an interpretative asymmetry between null and overt subject pronouns in indicative and subjunctive complement clauses. In the indicative, children overaccepted the dispreferred coreferential reading with overt pronouns (argued to be licensed post-syntactically); children performed more adult-like with null pronouns (considered to be licensed in syntax) when there was only one intrasentential antecedent (the matrix subject). However, when a matrix object antecedent was added between the preferred matrix subject antecedent and the null embedded subject pronoun, they often accepted the dispreferred reading of disjoint reference. In subjunctive clauses, children incorrectly assigned coreferential readings to both pronouns. We assume that subjunctive obviation is partly dependent on lexical-semantic knowledge, taking time to be acquired.
Keywords: interpretation, null subject pronouns, overt subject pronouns, indicative, subjunctive
Published online: 16 August 2018
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