3 Semantic constraints on children's

Semantic constraints on children's structural choices of relatives

Kerstin Nauclér

Dept of linguistics

University of G?teborg


Children's mastery of relative clauses has been a recurrent issue in psycho-linguistic li terature. The results obtained are, however, fairly i nconsi stent and different theoreti cal clai ms have been made. Chi ldren's acquisition has been explained ei ther with reference to syntactic complexity and processing constrai nts on structural confi gurati ons, or with reference to discourse strategies and communi cati ve functi on. An analysi s that takes i nto account the i nteracti on between syntax, semantics and pragmatics, can offer a very regular description of chi ldren's producti on of relati ve clauses. The constrai nts we find on premature grammars can be traced back to previous cogni ti ve development. I will present data on Swedish relati ve clause production in natural discourse. There are two bilingual learner groups and thei r results will be compared to that of a monoli ngual Swedish learner. The results could best be explained wi thi n an integrated vi ew of language development (Berman (1984), whi ch considers different li ngui sti c as well as language i ndependent variables to be i mportant determi nants of chi ldren's language acqui si ti on.