The Role of Innate Grammar and Input in the Acquisition of Chinese Relative Clauses
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation concerns one of the long-term debates about whether an innate grammar, i.e. Universal Grammar, is necessary for a child to acquire a language. The researchers who do not agree that an innate grammar needs to exist argue that the input or the child's experience of language is sufficient to acquire a language. In my work, I examine the relative clause, which is a complex structure cross-linguistically, as a case study to investigate the controversy between the role of innate grammar and the role of input in language acquisition. Based on both the comprehension data of Chinese-speaking children that I collected and the statistical analyses of corpora that I completed, I suggest that a satisfactory theory of language acquisition needs to still incorporate an innate grammar in order to accommodate the various and sometimes inconsistent input properties I document. Nevertheless, the acquisition pattern cannot be explained well without a good understanding of language-specific properties and of their potential interactions with language-external factors such as the comprehension system that may be at work in acquisition.
Degree ProgramGraduate College