A Subject Clitic in Child Catalan

  • Anna Gavarró Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Keywords: Child Language Acquisition, Catalan Language, Subject Clitics


In this paper we examine an instance of subject cliticisation in child Catalan previously unattested in the literature (1),. Given the lack of an adult counterpart to (1) in the input the child is exposed to, the claim is made that its occurrence, far from being accidental, must result from deep properties of grammar, also detectable in other Romance varieties.
M'he vist una pel.lícula.    (Lena, 5;9)
1sCL have seen a film
'I have seen a film.'
This subject clitic is sensitive to the presence of a person feature - it is limited to first person singular - and tense-sensitive - it is only found in the present perfect. The subject clitic is analysed as a means to identify the empty subject of the sentence in cases where incorporation of be to yield have is taking place, along the lines of Kayne (1993). The analysis extends to also previously unattested existential constructions found in child Catalan, which involve instances of be instead of have (Hi era un caçador instead of Hi havia un caçador 'There was a hunter' (Joan 3;5)) , but not vice-versa.