Volume 75, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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Articles and pronouns have already been extensively researched in various languages, including Dutch. Much less is known, however, about the pragmatic functions of these morphosyntactic forms during acquisition. The question to be investigated in the present research addresses the question of how Dutch children between 2;0 and 3;3 combine indefinite articles, definite/demonstrative articles and pronouns with pragmatic functions in reference.The research is located at the interface of morphosyntax and pragmatics. The choice of the form for a certain function is influenced by the child's ability to take on the listener's perspective. This ability is still developing in 2-year-olds, as is the acquisition of various morpho syntactic forms. The question is then, how do children combine forms with functions if they supposedly do not do this on the basis of the listener's knowledge of the referent. Three other possibilities are also investigated: specificity, discourse function and (visual) perceptibility. Both the form-function correspondences as well as errors in linking form to functions will be investigated for three Dutch children from the CHILDES-database.The results show that the children do not randomly distribute the morphosyntactic forms over pragmatic functions in reference. The patterns found can be explained on the basis of limited semantic use of forms and perceptual availability of the referent, followed by a growing sensitivity to discourse patterns.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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