The status of subjects in early child L2 English

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Proponents of Full Transfer/Full Access take nominative subject forms in early child L2 English as evidence for initial state functional projections. We discuss early stage longitudinal data from two Farsi-speaking children acquiring English. Our data reveal non-contrastive use of nominative subject forms, indicating initial absence of case marking. The patterns found are similar to those in the L1 English data in terms of the early non-contrastive pronoun use (e.g. Vainikka 1993/1994) and in terms of co-occurrence of null subjects with non-finite verbs. Pronominal contrasts first occur in utterances with the copula, supporting Hawkins’ (2001) proposal that it triggers the projection of AgrP under the Structure Building approach taken by Vainikka & Young-Scholten (e.g. 1994).


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