Early acquisition of SVO and VSO word orders in Palestinian Colloquial Arabic

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This study explores the acquisition of Subject-Verb- Object (SVO) and Verb- Subject-Object (VSO) structures in Palestinian Colloquial Arabic (PCA) using a repetition task to examine the production of these structures in a group of fifteen typically developing children aged 1:7–3:0. The findings indicate that the VSO order is mastered early, and is preferred over SVO by the young age groups. SVO order, on the other hand, appears late, even though it is the more frequent order in the adult target language. These findings are explained within the framework of head and phrase movement acquisition. Children acquire verb movement before they acquire Noun Phrase NP movement, and therefore succeed better with VSO sentences that involve only verb movement, than with SVO sentences that involve NP movement as well. With age, having mastered both types of movement, children shift to predominantly use the more grammatically complex SVO structure, which is the preferred and more abundant structure in the dialect.


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