Chapter 5. Acquisition of relative clauses in Finnish

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Little research has been conducted to date investigating Finnish children’s relative clause acquisition. We report a study on the emergence of these structures in one Finnish speaking child’s corpus between the ages of 1;7–3;6. The study focuses on (1) the effect of the input language, and (2) the properties of the utterances containing relative clauses, namely the syntactic role of head and relativized item and the transitivity of the relative clause. The results show that the child’s language largely mirrored the input language, but that her utterances were less complex than those of her caregivers. In addition, oblique relative clauses, which are difficult to learn in English and German, were found to be commonplace in early Finnish child language.


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