Null Subjects

One characteristic of children's two-word sentences is that they often omit the subject. Recently, this has been interpreted from the perspective of current linguistic theory, which proposes a parameter-setting approach. Some theorists argue that all children begin with the subject parameter set in the null position (which holds for languages such as Italian or Spanish) so that children learning English must eventually switch the parameter setting to the position marked for required subjects.

Although this proposal is attractive because it connects early grammar to linguistic theory, there are several criticisms of this approach. Although English-speaking children do omit subjects, in fact they include them significantly more often than Italian-speaking children, which suggests that they know that subjects need to be expressed. Subjects are probably omitted because young children have limited processing capacity, and for pragmatic reasons subjects are more readily omitted than objects because they are often provided by the context.

Autism

Autism

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