2013 Linguistics
SemanticScholar ID: 195745700

Locality and C-Command : The Acquisition of Principle A in Brazilian Portuguese *

Publication Summary

This paper investigates the acquisition of Principle A of Binding Theory in Brazilian Portuguese (BP). The main goal is to determine whether children show knowledge of both restrictions imposed by this principle, namely the fact that the antecedent for the anaphor must be local and that it must c-command the anaphor. Since c-command is a general notion, involved in many operations and principles, the prediction is that children will correctly obey it and pass the test from early on. Locality, however, is not a uniform notion. Besides local anaphors, found in English and BP, languages such as Norwegian and Dutch display ‘medium distance anaphors’, and Japanese and Icelandic have ‘long distance anaphors’ (Koster & Reuland, 1991, among others). This means that the locality domain for anaphors varies from language to language and exposure to the data is necessary for complete acquisition. Thus, the prediction is that the younger children might not show complete acquisition of locality. Fifty-one children acquiring BP as their native language were interviewed. The results indicate that our hypothesis is on the right track. In section 1, I discuss the main characteristics of BP anaphor se ‘himself/herself’, arguing that its distribution is constrained by Principle A of Binding Theory (Chomsky, 1981). In section 2, I discuss the results of a previous study indicating that children know that se is a reflexive form in BP. In section 3, I discuss cross-linguistic differences with respect to locality and the lack of variability in the case of c-command. Section 4 presents the results of the acquisition study and discusses the problems we faced when testing the children and the solutions we came up with in order to appropriately test children on this matter. Section 5 is the conclusion.

CAER Authors

Avatar Image for Philippe Prévost

Prof. Philippe Prévost

University of Tours - Professor of linguistics

Avatar Image for Laurie Tuller

Prof. Laurie Tuller

Universite de Tours - Professor of Linguistics

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