Remarks on theoretical accounts of Japanese children’s passive acquisition*

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This paper compares two theoretical accounts of developmental delay in children’s acquisition of verbal passives. First, Borer and Wexler (1987) and subsequent works attempt to explain the delay by proposing that young children lack the ability to form an A-chain (A-chain Deficit Hypothesis (ACDH)). Second, Fox and Grodzinsky (1998) suggest an alternative explanation by proposing that young children have difficulty with θ-transmission (θ-transmission Difficulty Hypothesis). I will examine the empirical predictions of the ACDH with two kinds of Japanese data: the comparison between long passive and ‘long passive-unaccusative amalgam’ and the comparison between long passive and short passive. I will show that the predictions of the ACDH are not borne out and suggest that the observed new data can be accounted for by the θ-transmission Difficulty Hypothesis. Keywords: A-chain Deficit Hypothesis; by-phrase; passive; theta-transmission; unaccusative


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