Comparing different accounts of inversion errors in children's non-subject wh-questions: 'What experimental data can tell us?'.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

This study investigated different accounts of children's acquisition of non-subject wh-questions. Questions using each of 4 wh-words (what, who, how and why), and 3 auxiliaries (BE, DO and CAN) in 3sg and 3pl form were elicited from 28 children aged 3;6-4;6. Rates of noninversion error (Who she is hitting?) were found not to differ by wh-word, auxiliary or number alone, but by lexical auxiliary subtype and by wh-word+lexical auxiliary combination. This finding counts against simple rule-based accounts of question acquisition that include no role for the lexical subtype of the auxiliary, and suggests that children may initially acquire wh-word + lexical auxiliary combinations from the input. For DO questions, auxiliary-doubling errors (What does she does like?) were also observed, although previous research has found that such errors are virtually non-existent for positive questions. Possible reasons for this discrepancy are discussed.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ambridge, B; Rowland, CF; Theakston, AL; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • August 2006

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 33 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 519 - 557

PubMed ID

  • 17017278

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1469-7602

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0305-0009

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1017/s0305000906007513

Language

  • eng