The DP, a vulnerable domain?

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Recent studies have shown that the acquisition of determiners, and particularly articles, appears unproblematic for children whose target language is French. Examining the acquisition of C-related phenomena in Swedish and German, Platzack (2001) argues that the CP represents a <i>vulnerable domain</i>, showing that grammatical operations related to the CP, unlike operations independent of this domain, are acquired comparatively late and that associated elements tend to be omitted frequently. According to the <i>Configurational Hypothesis</i> (Giorgi and Longobardi 1991) the structure of DP parallels clause structure. As a consequence, the DP could be expected to constitute a vulnerable domain as well. In the present contribution I will analyze longitudinal data from three children acquiring French: a monolingual and two German-French bilingual children, one of them unbalanced with French as her weaker language. It will be shown that at least in French the DP appears to be an invulnerable domain. I will discuss this finding from a cross-linguistic perspective, arguing that frequency of determiners and consistency in their syntactic distribution facilitates and thus accelerates the acquisition process.


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