The null subject stage and children's referential choice: a case study of an English-speaking monolingual
AuthorHeravi Karimouy, Mitra
This thesis explores the null subject phenomenon in English-speaking monolingual children by taking a closer look at the effect of discourse-pragmatic features on the realization of subject arguments in the speech of an English-speaking child. For that purpose, first the three dominant approaches in the literature, namely grammatical, performance and discourse-pragmatic accounts, are reviewed. Then, the framework of Hughes and Allen’s (2006, 2013, in press) studies is adopted to analyze the effect of four accessibility features, namely animacy, physical presence, prior mention, and linguistic disambiguation in the selected data. The results show that the child’s use of null subjects decreases as he moves towards the end of the null subject stage. They also indicate that the child is sensitive to the information flow and produces subjects based on the accessibility of different discourse-pragmatic features. The findings also reveal that such features have different weights as well as an incremental effect on the child’s choice of subject arguments. Finally, the other two approaches—the grammatical and performance perspectives—are brought back into discussion; by comparing all the three perspectives, it is concluded that an alternative unifying approach, as Allen (2006) maintains, would be able to provide a better more comprehensive explanation of the null subject phenomenon than any of the three can do alone.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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