Null Subject Versus Null Object: Some Evidence From the Acquisition of Chinese and English

Qi Wang, Diane Lillo-Martin, Catherine T. Best, Andrea Levitt
1992 Language Acquisition  
Since young English-speaking children use null subjects systematically, it has been proposed that they begin with the initial parameter setting allowing null arguments (NAs), and must change this setting on the basis of linguistic evidence that adult English prohibits NAs. A recent proposal suggests that the licensing and identification ofNAs used by English-speaking children is like that used in adult Chinese. This predicts that young Chinese-and English-speaking children should exhibit
more » ... ould exhibit parallel perfonnance in their use of NAs. This study investigated this prediction using an elicited production task with both Chineseand English-speaking children. Although the hypothesis that early English allows null subjects was upheld, the evidence is against the claim that early English is a discourse-oriented language like Chinese: while the Chinese children systematically used null objects, the American children did not. An alternative analysis of the use of null arguments is suggested. (1) b. Kathryn read this Gia ride bike I want take this off
doi:10.1207/s15327817la0203_2 fatcat:mrxbgy7ecnc57m7ttmiebzrghu