Early or late acquisition of inflected infinitives in European Portuguese?

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Building on our previous experimental work examining the acquisition of inflected infinitives in European Portuguese (EP) L1 acquisition (e.g. Pires, Rothman &#38; Santos 2010, 2011; Santos, Duarte, Pires &#38; Rothman 2011), the present study investigates the emergence of inflected infinitives in young EP children&#8217;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>&#8216;for&#8217; purpose clauses. We argue that EP inflected infinitives first emerge as complements of <i>para </i>&#8216;for&#8217; 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&#8217;s (2005, 2011) Derivational Complexity Hypothesis. Keywords: inflected infinitive; European Portuguese; Derivational Complexity; V-to-C; purpose clauses


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