Before grammar

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This paper presents early complex constructions with <i>querer</i> &#8216;want&#8217; produced by a young Mexican Spanish-speaking child. It argues that constructions in the complement position, regardless their infinitive or subjunctive marking, result from simple cut and paste operations and do not involve any complex syntactic operations. Crucial for this proposal is the fact that these marked constructions have an independent exposition before they get into any combination, and the frequent and distributed occurrence of anomalous two-predicate combinations that result from the adjunction of unrestricted constructions from the child&#8217;s construction inventory. A functional-pragmatic motivation is proposed. Evidence is interpreted within the <i>Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition</i> (Tomasello 2003), taking into account recent work on child&#8217;s early complex constructions (Diessel &amp; Tomasello 2005; Giv&#243;n 2007, 2008).


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