L1 Aquisition of Direct Object Clitic Doubling

Mona Luiza Ungureanu


This paper discusses the first language acquisition of the Direct Object Clitic Doubling (henceforth [DOCD]) parameter in Romanian, a [+DOCD] language, and reports the results of a pilot experiment that identifies the default setting of this parameter. The hypothesis tested here assumes, following Sportiche (1996, 1997), that [-DOCD] is the default value of this parameter, while the [+DOCD] value is acquired on the basis of positive evidence. Following the Full Competence Hypothesis (FCH) as proposed by Poeppel & Wexler (1993) among others, I assume that functional categories (i.e. clitics) are present in the child’s grammar from the beginning. The working hypothesis in this paper predicts that in earlier stages of language acquisition children will entertain the [-DOCD] parameter, even when they are learning a [+DOCD] language. These predictions are borne out by the results of my study. This pilot experiment was designed to investigate the process of acquisition of the [+DOCD] value; in this respect, children at different stages of acquisition and adult control participants were tested. Two tasks focusing on the DOCD values were used: an elicited production task and an imitation task. We conclude that in the process of L1 acquisition of [DOCD] the default value is [-DOCD]. Key words: Romanian L1 acquisition, direct object clitics acquisition, clitic doubling acquisition, parameteric settings, functional categories.

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