Danish Vestigial Case and the Acquisition of Vocabulary in Distributed Morphology
Keywords: acquisition, case, Danish, Distributed Morphology, Germanic
AbstractAs Halle & Marantz (2008: 71) acknowledge, “we have no real idea about how a child assigns features to Vocabulary Items” in Distributed Morphology (DM). Stated generally, how do children acquire language-specific (sometimes variable) mappings between morpho-syntactic features and their morpho-phonological exponents? Following Emonds (1986) in a DM framework, this article advances a testable ‘morphological transparency’ constraint on the acquisition of Vocabulary, and presents supporting results from a pilot observational child-language study in Danish. This constraint explains a significant difference in the mechanisms of Germanic case morphology. By hypothesis, ‘vestigial’ case forms of English and Danish pronouns are contextual allomorphs, with Vocabulary that do not contain any morpho-syntactic case features. Vestigial-case mechanisms constitute a comprehensive analysis of intra-individually variable case-form mismatches in coordinate Determiner Phrases, predicate nominals, and other syntactic structures. Thus, a principle of language acquisition ultimately explains the distribution of case forms both within and across language varieties.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms: Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons CC-BY License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).