Volume 40, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0378-4169
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9927
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We investigate the effect of French clitic construction on verb learning. In French, object pronouns precede the verb, and the canonical direct object position remains empty. We test whether children treat such contexts as input for transitivity (since a direct object is morphologically identified) or optional transitivity (due to the empty direct object position). Forty-eight monolingual French preschoolers heard verb input with clitics and noun phrases as direct objects, in two input conditions: obligatory transitivity, and mixed optional transitivity. Results show that children are sensitive to the input, but produce more sentences with null implicit objects in the clitic conditions. This provides evidence that specific properties of a language (e.g. clitic constructions), affect the acquisition of verbal classes.


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