Children’s Spanish subject pronoun expression

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This study explores children&#8217;s acquisition of structured morphosyntactic variation by examining Spanish subject pronoun expression. Analyses of 5,923 verbs produced by 154 Mexican children, ages 6 to 16, show that the variables that most strongly constrain the oldest children&#8217;s pronoun usage &#8211; Person, Reference, Priming &#8211; are acquired first during childhood. These variables exert similar effects across age, with the exception of second-person singular, which favors <i>t&#250; </i>expression among younger children and <i>t&#250; </i>omission among older children. The developmental trajectory from more to less <i>t&#250; </i>expression is explained as the result of (a) increasing production of nonspecific reference, which in turn decreases rates of <i>t&#250;</i>, and (b) abundant reported speech in the younger children&#8217;s data, which rendered <i>t&#250; </i>expression pragmatically appropriate.


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