Vol. 7 (2021)
Articles

N-merge systems in adult and child grammars: a quantitative study on external arguments

Published September 15, 2021
Keywords
  • Large datasets,
  • N merge system,
  • Quantitative Syntax,
  • Subject
How to Cite
Samo, G. (2021). N-merge systems in adult and child grammars: a quantitative study on external arguments. Quaderni Di Linguistica E Studi Orientali, 7, 103-130. https://doi.org/10.13128/qulso-2421-7220-12005

Abstract

This paper explores quantitative results based on theoretical assumptions related to the predictions on N-merge systems (Rizzi 2016) ranked from minimum to a maximum of complexity in terms of the computational devices and derivational operations they require. We investigate the nature of external arguments focussing on 2-merge systems (two elements of the lexicon merge and the created unit is again merged with a further element directly extracted from the lexicon) and 3-merge systems (merge two elements created by previous operations of merge). We add a quantitative dimension to the established qualitative dimension discussed in the theory (Rizzi 2016) by investigating large-scale corpora representative of three populations of speakers: adult grammar (102 treebanks/101 languages), typically developing children (2 corpora/English and Chinese) and children with atypical development (1 corpus). The results confirm the predictions in Rizzi (2016): every language in our data set exploits 3-merge systems and less complex systems are the preferred options in early grammars.

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