Direct Objects and Language Acquisition

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Cambridge University Press, Oct 29, 2020 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 249 pages
Direct object omission is a general occurrence, observed in varying degrees across the world's languages. The expression of verbal transitivity in small children begins with the regular use of verbs without their object, even where object omissions are illicit in the ambient language. Grounded in generative grammar and learnability theory, this book presents a comprehensive view of experimental approaches to object acquisition, and is the first to examine how children rely on the lexical, structural and pragmatic components to unravel the system. The results presented lead to the hypothesis that missing objects in child language should not be seen as a deficit but as a continuous process of knowledge integration. The book argues for a new model of how this aspect of grammar is innately represented from birth. Ideal reading for advanced students and researchers in language acquisition and syntactic theory, the book's opening and closing chapters are also suitable for non-specialist readers.

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About the author (2020)

Ana Teresa Pérez-Leroux is Professor of Spanish and Linguistics, and Director of the Cognitive Science Program at the University of Toronto. Her research seeks to understand how children learn the syntax and semantics of the smallest and silent components of sentence grammar, including determiners, prepositions, number, tense, mood and aspect, null objects and subjects, and how grammatical complexity develops from these components.

Mihaela Pirvulescu is Associate Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Language Studies, University of Toronto. Her research looks at the morpho-syntactic expression and acquisition of verbal argument structure, and how bilingualism and multilingualism impacts the course of language acquisition.

Yves Roberge is Principal of New College and Professor of Linguistics in the French Department at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on the syntax and semantics of French and other Romance languages, especially Canadian French, as well as dialectal variation, first language acquisition, and the syntax-morphology interface.