CLS Meeting Series - Pablo Requena (Penn State University)
Feb 13, 2015
from 09:00 AM to 10:30 AM
|Where||127 Moore Building|
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Spanish Clitic Placement Variation and its Acquisition
The finite verb (followed by animacy and discourse factors) plays an important role on the placement of Direct Object pronouns in contexts where Modern Spanish allows pre- and post-verbal pronouns. Far from displaying complementary distribution, verbs exhibit a gradient distribution along the clitic placement continuum. The bias of a construction toward one or another word order has been linked to grammaticalization. In the first part of this talk, I will point out how one construction (tener que ‘have to’) seems to challenge previous analyses and I will propose that looking at relative frequency of the finite verb as used overall in corpora might provide useful information about the behavior of this and other frequent constructions. In the second part of the talk, I will outline the L1 acquisition trajectory toward full mastery of the main constraints that operate in this instance of variation. In particular, I will present data that shows that by four years of age, Spanish-speaking children show sensitivity to some of the variable constraints (verb and animacy). The data presented make interesting predictions and raise further questions about language competence and language acquisition of variation.