Talk: WH-questions in child Romanian

A generativist perspective on the acquisition of wh-questions in Romanian

During the research for my BA paper, titled "Wh-questions in child Romanian", I realised how little literature was written on this subject. I was able to find many articles on the acquisition of wh-questions in several Romance languages, but not so many on the acquisition of this structure in Romanian. This is why I decided to conduct my own corpus analysis and compare the results I got with the already established results in other languages. The results I will present regard the pattern of acquisition, the particularities and the errors made by children when acquiring wh-questions in Romanian.

My talk will be based on the third chapter of my BA paper. Below, I attach its summary:

The third chapter represents the practical part of the paper; it approaches the acquisition of wh-questions. I analyse the acquisition of this syntactic structure comparatively in English and in Romanian. The first section addresses the way in which English-speaking children acquire wh-questions; this section focuses on the pattern of acquisition and on the errors made by children. In the second section, I focus on the acquisition of wh-questions in Romanian. This chapter includes an analysis of a longitudinal corpus provided in the CHILDES database, and it presents the pattern of acquisition, the particularities and the errors found. In the first section I explain the process of acquisition for wh-questions in English. I cite some studies that present the most common errors made by English children acquiring this structure, such as the lack of inversion in why-questions and the addition of a second wh-word in long-distance questions. I note that these constructions are the standard form in languages such as Italian and German; this observation supports the generativist theory, which states that child language can differ from the language spoken by adults in the same linguistic community only in ways that adult languages can differ from each other. In the second section of the last chapter, to parallel these findings with empirical data from child Romanian, I analyse a longitudinal corpus and I present the conclusions regarding the pattern of acquisition, the particularities and the errors made when acquiring wh-questions in Romanian. The results generated by the analysis of the corpus met the expectation that children acquiring Romanian wh-questions would follow the pattern of acquisition presented in the second chaper, and that they would not commit mistakes which violate Universal Grammar.


Day: 2020-11-21
Start time: 10:00
Duration: 00:30
Room: Odille Morison
Track: Theoretical Linguistics
Language: en




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