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The acquisition of clitics and strong pronouns in Catalan

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Abstract

Within the experimental tradition of the study of acquisition of pronouns, one major aim has been to test whether binding principles are innate. Most findings support the claim that whether binding is innate, pragmatic notions like &#8216;point of view&#8217; or &#8216;discourse-context&#8217;, which are related to free pronouns in English, are somehow troublesome for children (cf. Chien &#38; Wexler 1990; Grodzinsky &#38; Reinhart 1993). In addition, there is a growing body of research on the acquisition of the pronominal system of Romance suggesting that clitics somehow escape such a generalisation (Padilla 1990; McKee 1992; Baauw et al 1997 for Spanish and Italian). The goal of this paper is to examine the contrast between strong pronouns and clitics in the light of their acquisition in Catalan. The fact that Catalan exhibits both a syntactic anaphor (in the form of reflexive clitic <i>se</i>) and a focus anaphor (in the form of non-reflexive clitic <i>ell mateix</i> &#8216;himself&#8217;) makes their study also relevant to the question as to whether one may speak of a delay in the acquisition of discourse anaphors.

References

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