By Philip Herdina; Ulrike Jessner; Manfred Kienpointner
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Extra info for Language acquisition and syntactic theory
Since the ambiguity in interpretation of nonfinite verbal forms is impossible to resolve in all cases, the existence of utterances with postverbal subjects and nonfinite verbs can not be relied on to determine the underlying structure of the sentence in French child language. There are, however, additional motivations for assuming that [Spec, VP] is generated to the right of V' in French child language. Recall Sportiche's (1988; Koopman and Sportiche, 1988) claim that French lacks fixed ordering of major constituents under VP, since French, but not English, regularly exhibits inverted word in certain contexts.
G. Borer, 1989; Huang, 1989). e. tensed Inft). In clauses which are potentially finite but which contain a zero-morpheme in Aux, Aux still governs and assigns nominative Case to the lexical subject, or licenses pro in subject position. In short, I am proposing that the occurrence of lexical subjects with infinitives in French child language may be viewed as evidence that these clauses are not marked as nonfinite on an abstract level. There are two major consequences of this analysis of Case assignment.
The existence of both orders suggests that there are multiple ways to arrive at a postverbal subject. While the VSO form is readily derived via underlying S-V' order in conjunction with the verb raising to Inft, the vas form requires underlying V'-S order or right dislocation for its derivation. I will return to the issue of postverbal subjects in transitive constructions shortly. Looking now at the intransitive cases, both unaccusatives and unergatives are found. As in English, the post-predicate argument in the French unaccusatives in (19) is analyzed as a D-structure object.