Child Relativized Minimality and Grammaticality Judgement


Anna Gavarró


Child Relativised Minimality and Grammaticality Judgement

Editorial: Frontiers in Psychology, section Language Sciences
Data de publicació: 7 de febrer del 2020

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Grammaticality judgements are the fundamental experimental source of generative linguistic theory. They may be difficult to elicit, especially in some populations, but generally they inform us neatly about what the grammar licenses or, on the contrary, bans. On the other hand, acceptability is multifactorial and therefore, unlike grammaticality judgement, can be quantified. In this paper I consider a particular empirical domain, that of Relativized Minimality (RM) in acquisition, and its relation to the dichotomy between grammaticality and acceptability. Friedmann et al. (2009) argued that children hold a stricter version of RM than adults. In particular, children would require a disjoint feature specification, not just a distinct feature specification, between target and intervener. The literature shows asymmetries in comprehension of subject and object relative clauses in various languages which fulfill the predictions of child RM. Variation between adults and children might be expected not only in production and comprehension, but also in grammaticality judgement. If so, children would be predicted to reject object relatives as well as the classic RM violations. Alternatively, if child RM is a processing effect, the prediction is that children would be able to tease apart object relative clauses from RM violations under favorable processing conditions. The question I address is: do children assimilate RM violations and object relative clauses? Grammaticality judgement should provide an answer to this question. In this paper I present an experiment targeting grammaticality judgement for object relatives and RM violations and report preliminary results for a group of 6-year-old Catalan-speaking children showing that object relatives and RM violations are not judged in a parallel fashion, since RM violations are rejected more often than object relatives.

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