General programme, activity sheet

Friday 9 September, 2016 11:00 to 11:30 Oral presentation
Subject realization in French-speaking and Spanish-speaking young children: a dialogical account
Speaker: Haydee Marcos, Université Paris 3
Speaker: Anne Salazar Orvig, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3

Authors: Anne Salazar Orvig, Haydée Marcos and Salma Nashawati

In the last 20 years, the focus of investigation of subject realization has moved from syntactical approaches to discourse pragmatic ones. These studies have shown that very young children use weak or null forms for previously mentioned or in focus referents and strong or lexical forms for new or activated referents. Even though this early discourse pragmatic sensitivity to the cognitive status of referents has been documented in very different languages, the interaction between linguistic, discourse pragmatic and dialogical factors needs further investigation. This paper focuses on two romance languages differing on the expression of subjects: Spanish and French. The analysis was carried out on four longitudinal corpora of two Spanish-speaking children and two French-speaking children aged between 1;10 and 2;6 (MLU 1.5 to 2.75) in naturally occurring dialogues. Syntactical subjects were characterized according to their expression (null forms, filler syllables, person agreement, non finite forms, overt pronominal, lexical forms and dislocations) Subjects were then analyzed according to the attentional and discursive status of referents and to their dialogical position. Results show both language specific paths and similar discourse pragmatic and dialogical developmental trends. For previously mentioned and in focus referents, Spanish speaking children use person agreement more often than unmarked forms and, in French, clitic pronouns co-exist with null forms and fillers. Lexical subjects and demonstrative pronouns are used for new, activated and reintroduced subjects but children differ in the way they mark contrast in dialogue: overt pronouns or lexical subjects in Spanish vs. dislocations in French. However, these partially contrasted devices are used by children for similar discursive and dialogical functions. Discussion deals with the respective weight of these factors and the need to consider dialogical anchoring to account for early pragmatic competence.
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Discourse and pragmatic development
Place: Room B-11

Other activities in Discourse and pragmatic development
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