EUROSLA Yearbook: Volume 3 (2003)
  • ISSN 1568-1491
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9749
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Recent work on child L2 acquisition of English demonstrates that root infinitives (RIs) abound in early language (Gavruseva and Lardière 1996, Haznedar and Schwarz 1997). This paper aims to show that current approaches to RIs (Rizzi 1993/94, Prévost and White 2000) fail to account for the correlations between a predicate’s Aktionsart and its finiteness status. For example, it is shown that statives and punctual eventives are quite consistently finite, whereas non-punctual eventives are ‘optionally’ finite in the L2 data from five children (mean age 7;5). An alternative account of the RI effect is developed, suggesting that verbs in the English lexicon are specified either for an inherent telicity feature or a compositional telicity feature and that the respective features are checked in the aspectual projections with different properties. The central assumption is that syntactic aspectual features are underspecified in early child L2 syntax. The child L2 data are shown to be consistent with this hypothesis.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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