DOI: 10.1075/ ISSN:

A multidimensional perspective on the acquisition of subject-verb dependencies by Haitian-Creole speaking children

Isabelle Barrière, Blandine Joseph, Katsiaryna Aharodnik, Sarah Kresh, Guetjens Prince Fleurio, Géraldine Legendre, Thierry Nazzi
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics


The present multidimensional study investigates the acquisition of pronominal subject-verb dependencies in Standard Haitian Creole (HC). A corpus analysis confirms that HC subject pronouns are phonological clitics in the target grammar and that their reduction is optional and unpredictable. The comprehension and production of dependencies involving these subject pronouns in 20 preschoolers acquiring HC as their first language were investigated. While the production of third person singular and plural subject pronouns l(i) and y(o) reveals early mastery of adult constraints on their phonological reductions, the systematic assignments of l(i) to singular subjects vs. y(o) to plural subjects of the verb in the syntactic dependency emerge later, in both production and comprehension. The few syntactic contexts in which HC-learning children show evidence of comprehension involve full forms, rather than phonological reductions. Possible factors that explain these findings include the relative unpredictability of their forms and the linguistic status of HC pronouns.

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