Acquisition of Multiple Questions in English, Russian, and Malayalam

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Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics


This article presents the results of four studies exploring the acquisition of the language-specific syntactic and semantic properties of multiple interrogatives in English, Russian, and Malayalam, languages that behave differently with respect to the syntax and semantics of multiple interrogatives. A corpus analysis investigated the frequency of occurrence of multiple interrogatives in parental speech, demonstrating that children face quite limited evidence in the input. It was followed with studies where multiple interrogatives were elicited from children and adults in specific contexts in English, Russian, and Malayalam. Children acquiring English and Malayalam demonstrated perfect knowledge of the properties of multiple questions, while Russian-acquiring children exhibited some difficulties with the language-specific syntax of these expressions. The learning process of multiple interrogatives is explored, considering several sources of evidence children are getting in the input.



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