Volume 12, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1879-7865
  • E-ISSN: 1879-7873
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According to usage-based models of language acquisition, young children’s grammatical knowledge is best described in terms of lexically specific templates rather than abstract constructions. In this study, we tested the usage-based account by examining the acquisition of Italian, a language with relatively free word order and rich inflectional morphology. We exposed two groups of Italian-speaking children (aged 3;01 and 4;05) and adult controls to a nonce verb and to a familiar verb in an imperative construction. We then prompted production of those verbs in a different morphological form (past tense) and a different syntactic construction (transitive). While both child groups showed adult-like productivity with morphology, there were significant group differences in syntactic productivity.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): first language acquisition; Italian; morphology; syntax; usage-based models

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