Early finiteness in German and Dutch child language

S. Winkler

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The acquisition of finiteness is one of the most studied phenomena in both first and second language development. Within a functional framework, Dimroth et al. (2003) suggest that German and Dutch children follow a uniform acquisition path in the development of the target-like expression of finiteness in their speech. The present paper seeks to discuss the assumption of fundamental similarities between German and Dutch child language, comparing data from a fine-grained analysis of 4 German child corpora with data from Dutch children (Jordens, 2002). The cross-linguistic comparison focuses in particular on the means for the early expression of finiteness and on the status of the auxiliary hebben/haben ‘to have’ in the developmental process.
The paper is organized as follows: Section 2 addresses the background of the study and contains general remarks to the concept of finiteness and to its expression in early learner languages. In Section 3, the concrete research aim and the data are presented. Section 4 constitutes the main part of this paper. It documents the development of finiteness in German child language and discusses differences and similarities to Dutch child language. Section 5, finally, contains an overall summary and the conclusions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalToegepaste Taalwetenschap in Artikelen
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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