Early or late acquisition of inflected infinitives in European Portuguese?
Building on our previous experimental work examining the acquisition of inflected infinitives in European Portuguese (EP) L1 acquisition (e.g. Pires, Rothman & Santos 2010, 2011; Santos, Duarte, Pires & Rothman 2011), the present study investigates the emergence of inflected infinitives in young EP children’s spontaneous production data. EP children produce inflected infinitives as early as age 1;11, although early production is first exclusively restricted to <i>para </i>‘for’ purpose clauses. We argue that EP inflected infinitives first emerge as complements of <i>para </i>‘for’ because the derivation of those structures, resulting from Merge of a complementizer in C, is formally less complex than the derivation of other inflected infinitive contexts which involve V-to-C movement. As such, we maintain that the present evidence is consistent with and thus supportive of Jakubowicz’s (2005, 2011) Derivational Complexity Hypothesis. Keywords: inflected infinitive; European Portuguese; Derivational Complexity; V-to-C; purpose clauses