3. Verb movement and subject placement in the acquisition of word order: Pragmatics or structural economy?

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This chapter reports on a study investigating three children acquiring a dialect of Norwegian (Tromsø). It is shown that, although verb-second (V2) word order is attested early in non-subject-initial declaratives and questions, the children produce non-target-consistent word order in these constructions at an early stage, failing to move pronominal subjects past negation or an adverb. This is analyzed within a split-CP model which also assumes the existence of two subject positions in the IP domain, a high one for informationally given subjects and a lower one for subjects conveying new information. A pragmatic account of the child data is considered, but rejected in favour of an economy-based analysis which includes factors such as input frequency and complexity.


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