Acquiring the distribution of null and overt direct objects in European Portuguese

  • This article investigates the L1 acquisition of different types of direct objects in European Portuguese (EP). Previous research has revealed that although children have early syntactic and pragmatic knowledge of objects across languages, the adequate use of pronouns and null objects is protracted in the acquisition of EP (Costa et al. 2012). The present study shows that children acquiring the distribution of direct objects are aware of universal pragmatic hierarchies but struggle with the interpretation and feature bundles of null objects. Assuming that arguments are linked to left-peripheral C/edge linkers (Sigurðsson 2011), we argue that children need more time to discover the adult-like feature composition of null objects in EP because they involve phi-silent features. Relative accessibility (Ariel 1991) is universal and available early, whereas the absolute accessibility of null objects, i.e. their feature content, is acquired relatively late.

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Author:Cristina Flores, Esther Rinke, Aldona Sopata
Parent Title (English):Journal of Portuguese linguistics
Publisher:Ubiquity Press
Place of publication:London
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2020
Date of first Publication:2020/05/04
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2020/06/15
Tag:European Portuguese; accessibility hierarchy; animacy; direct objects; null object stage
Issue:1, Art. 5
Page Number:20
First Page:1
Last Page:20
Copyright: © 2020 The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See
Institutes:Neuere Philologien / Neuere Philologien
Dewey Decimal Classification:4 Sprache / 46 Spanisch, Portugiesisch / 460 Spanisch, Portugiesisch
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0