Subject and object omission in children's early transitive constructions: A discourse-pragmatic approach

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This paper investigates discourse effects on the provision of both subjects and objects and investigates whether pragmatic discourse features govern the realization/omission of both constituents alike. In an elicitation study, we examined how the discourse-pragmatic feature contrast, as applied to the subject, verb or object of a transitive utterance affected the provision of elements in the remainder of the sentence when all elements were previously introduced. The results showed that 3;6-year-old children were more likely to realize a contrasted argument with a lexical noun, but more likely to omit the argument when it was not part of a contrast, regardless of its subject or object status. This suggests that contrast presents a unifying discourse feature for argument omission in language development.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-727
Number of pages27
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015