Development of word order in german complement-clause constructions: Effects of input frequencies, lexical items, and discourse function

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We investigate the development of word order in German children's spontaneous production of complement clauses. From soon after their second birthday, young German children use both verb-final complements with complementizers and verb-second complements without complementizers. By their third birthday they use both kinds of complement clauses with a variety of complement-taking verbs. Early in development, however, verb-final complements and verbsecond complements are used with separate sets of complement-taking verbs, and they are used with separate sets of item-specific main-clause phrases. For example, initially phrases such as 'I want to see' were used exclusively with verb-final complements, whereas phrases such as 'do you see' and 'you have to say' were used exclusively with verb-second complements. Only later in development-when specific complement-taking verbs were used with both verb-second and verbfinal complements, with a greater variety of main-clause phrases, and when specific main-clause phrases were used with both verb-second and verb-final complements-was there evidence for structural links between these various, item-based, complement-clause constructions.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-610
Number of pages27
JournalLanguage
Volume86
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010