Article published in:The Acquisition of Syntax in Romance Languages
Edited by Vincent Torrens and Linda Escobar
[Language Acquisition and Language Disorders 41] 2006
► pp. 51–68
Definite and bare noun contrasts in child Catalan
Thirty-three children aged 3–5 were tested for comprehension of definite and bare noun (BN) contrasts in Catalan, a language with bare nouns in direct object but not in subject position. Catalan objects have the same semantics as English subjects: BNs map to generic and definites into specific referents. Global semantic parameters cannot explain the contrast in this type of language. The test of Catalan sentences equivalent to She needs shoes/She needs the shoes showed no discrimination at 3 and sensitivity by 4 .We argue under an economy approach that BNs have a default generic reading that can be shifted into an ‘instance-of-a-kind’ interpretation. Acquisition is driven by a principle of semantic contrast that restricts the initial overextension of BNs to specificreadings.
Published online: 26 July 2006
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