Linguistic Variation Yearbook 2008
  • ISSN 1568-1483
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9900
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We discuss the results of an L1 French comprehension study of the construal of present and imperfective past in (non) subordinate contexts. Our findings reveal that children accept (sometimes enforce) non-indexical simultaneous construals of both present and past under a matrix past — though present is utterance-indexical in adult French. Extending Kratzer’s (1998) zero-tense analysis of English past under past simultaneous construals to Japanese present under past simultaneous construals, we argue that zero-tenses in L1 French surface either as past (adult French) or as present (adult Japanese). That children allow multi-valued parameter settings is expected on the Multiple Grammars hypothesis where language acquisition involves grammar competition. We extend our zero-tense analysis of non-adult tense construals in subordinate contexts to non-subordinate contexts, by arguing that the binder of a zero-tense in child grammar can be a temporal adverb denoting the ‘now’ of the speaker or some salient time implicit in the context.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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