Chapter 2. Zero-present under past in child French
This chapter discusses novel data from two experimental studies testing the acquisition of futurity and providing evidence in favor of Demirdache and Lungu’s (2009, 2011) zero-tense hypothesis, according to which child grammars display both zero-present and zero-past tenses, alongside indexical present/past tenses. Extending Kratzer (1998), Demirdache and Lungu argue that simultaneous construals of past/present in adult languages arise via a zero-tense analysis of the embedded tense. The claim is that while some adult languages (English, French) allow zero-tense construals of past and others (Japanese) allow zero-tense construals of present, child French in particular and, by hypothesis, child language in general, allows zero-tense construals of both past and present. We argue that once we admit the existence of a zero-present tense in child French, we expect children to allow non-adult, non-indexical construals of other tenses that have a present component. On the basis of two experiments testing the interpretation of futurity in L1 French, we show that this prediction is borne out.