Back to list

Detail of contribution

Auteur: Vincenzo MOSCATI

Movement and Locality in Language Acquisition: a Ranked Typology of Agreement in Italian

Abstract/Résumé: Different agreement configurations can be kept distinct once the relation between the Probe and the Goal (Chomsky 2000) is considered in terms of locality. In this paper, I’ll explore a particular notion of locality, capitalizing on the distinction between agreement configurations obtained without movement (external merge) and agreement configurations created by single or multiple successive instances of movement (internal merge). In classifying movement-based agreement, a further distinction will be introduced in order to keep distinct cases where agreement is satisfied “in passing” from other cases where the agreement projection is the final landing site of the moved constituent (a criterial position, in terms of Rizzi 2006). From these considerations, a ranked typology of agreement will be presented and applied to Standard Italian. In this language, at least four configurations can be isolated and ranked in accordance to the following hierarchy of locality: (1) D-N> Subj-V> Subj-Adj> Cl-PastPart. Under the assumption that more local configurations will be mastered earlier than less local one, it follows the empirical prediction that at any developmental stage, errors will increase moving along the dimension in (1) i.e. the error rate for D-N will be always lower than Subj-V. The four kinds of agreement in (1) have been tested in three group of monolingual Italian children (G1: 2;11 – 3;9, M=3;4; G2: 4;3 – 4;9, M=4;6; G3: 5;2 – 5;10, M=5;4) and the task employed was a Forced Choice of Grammaticality, following Pirvulescu & Belzil (2008). Results confirm a gradual development of agreement, with a significant effect of AGE (p<.001) and Condition (p<0.001) in accordance with the predictions generated by the ranking in (1).