, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 709-753

Parameters for Wh-movement types: Evidence from child English

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In this paper we report on a longitudinal study investigating Wh-constructions in children ranging initially from 2;11 to 5;7. We found that, in addition to accepting English-type Wh-movement, some children, for a period of time, also acceptpartial Wh-movement, Wh-copying, andmultiple Wh-movement, constructions that exist in languages like German and Romani, in which a Wh-phrase occurs in a [-Wh] SpecCP. Importantly, none of the children who accept these construction types manifest the That-Trace Effect. To account for this correlation, we propose an analysis whereby grammars allowing the Wh-constructions do not have the [pred] feature of Rizzi (1990) that distinguishes the specifier of relative clauses from other SpecCPs. We suggest that children are born with their parameter set in this way and later, if they are learning a language like English, switch to a grammar that includes the [pred] feature.

Notes for ‘Parameters for Wh-movement Types: Evidence from Child English’ (M255a)
This research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant no. BNS-9108360. We thank Kelley McDaniel for helping to collect and organize the data. We are grateful to Helen S. Cairns, Wayne Cowart, Carme Picallo, and fourNLLT reviewers for comments on earlier drafts. We also benefited from comments of audiences at the City University of New York Graduate Center (1993), the Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America (1993), and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (1992). Finally, we thank the children of the University of Southern Maine Child Care Services, as well as their parents, the teachers, and the directors, and our adult subjects.