Researchers on the project are

Merete Anderssen (postdoc)

Merete Anderssen

Yulia Rodina (postdoc)

Yulia Rodina

Paula Fikkert (project leader)

Paula Fikkert

The VAMOS project investigates children’s acquisition of subject and object placement in several grammatical constructions in which two different positions are permitted for these elements. The structures under investigation include subject and object shift, verb particle constructions and double object constructions. Examples of the variable position of subjects and objects in these structures are provided in (1) - (4), respectively.

(1)    Den boka har ikke John/*han lest    /  Den boka har John/han ikke lest
         that book has not   John /  he    read  /   that book has John/ he   not   read
(2)    John leste ikke den boka/*den  /  John leste *den boka/den ikke
        John read  not  that  book/  it      /  John read    that book/it     not
(3)    John leste ut   bok -a   /*den  /  John leste bok -a   /den ut
        John read out book-the/  it      /  John read book-the/it     out (completed)
(4)    John gav   Maria en bok    /   John gav   en bok  til Maria
        John gave Mary  a   book   /   John gave a   book to Mary

The major focus of the investigation is on how children acquire such structures and how they deal with the optionality displayed in the input. However, in order to study how these constructions are acquired, it is also necessary to consider how they function in the adult language. In the examples above, the word order in the target language is determined by various characteristics of the arguments, but not always the same ones. For example, one determining factor is information structure and whether the subject/object represents given or new information. Other aspects that affect the argument placement in these structures is their nominal type (pronoun versus DP),  definiteness, specificity and prosody. We wish to investigate what these factors are in the different constructions in the adult language and to what extent children are sensitive to them. In those cases when they are not, it is necessary to determine when they become sensitive to them.

The primary focus of our investigation is Norwegian. However, the investigation will also include a comparative component, as we intend to study the acquisition of some of these constructions in Dutch, English and Russian. The project will also have a bilingual component, and will include a study of the acquisition of double object constructions by Norwegian-Russian bilinguals. The research will be carried out experimentally in the recently established TROmsø Language acquisition Lab (TROLL) by conducting elicited production and comprehension experiments.

Language acquisition team Tromsø

Language acquisition team Tromsø, University of Tromsø

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