Topicality in L1-acquisition

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Although the study of human information structure has become a major field of linguistic interest, little research has examined topicality in L1-acquisition. Those studies dealing with topicality in child speech almost all focus on the question if children do or do not possess the adult ability to correctly identify and encode topics. The child’s performance of encoding topical information is thus classified as “correct” if it corresponds to the adult norm or as “deficient” in case it doesn’t. Such a way of interpreting the data does not consider that children’s topic-marking may follow its own rules, which are based on a different understanding of children of what a topic is. This latter possibility will be discussed in this article for the domain of null subjects in child French and German.


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