The Genesis of Clausal Structure

  • Nina Hyams
Part of the Studies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics book series (SITP, volume 16)


Not too long ago the consensus in the field was that during the early stages of language development young children did not have grammatical categories or relations of any sort. but rather that their grammars had a semantic basis (cf. Bowerman, 1973; Schlesinger, 1971, for example). A notable problem for such analyses was to account for the transition to an adult-like, syntactically-based system. Current theories which propose that functional categories are lacking or underspecified in early grammars, face a similar challenge. The latter hypothesis, which I will henceforth refer to as the small clause hypothesis, following Radford (1986, 1990), may in fact have a harder task in that the kinds of semantic bootstrapping mechanisms which have been posited for the acquisition of lexical categories, such as Noun and Verb (cf. Wexler and Culicover, 1980; Grimshaw, 1981), do not readily extend to functional categories, such as INFL or COMP, which have no clear referential function.


Main Clause Subordinate Clause Functional Head Child Language Past Participle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1992

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  • Nina Hyams

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