On the Acquisition of Word Order in WH-Questions in theTromsø Dialect

  • Marit Richardsen Westergaard University of Tromsø
Keywords: Child Language Acquisition, Norwegian Language, Word Order, Information Structure, Markedness


This article reports on a study of three children acquiring a dialect of Norwegian which allows two different word orders in certain types of WH-questions, verb second (V2) and and verb third (V3). The latter is only allowed after monosyllabic WH-words, while the former, which is the result of verb movement, is the word order found in all other main clauses in the language. It is shown that both V2 and V3 are acquired extremely early by the children in the study (before the age of two), and that subtle distinctions between the two orders with respect to information structure are attested from the beginning. However, it is argued that V3 word order, which should be ìsimplerî than the V2 structure as it does not involve verb movement, is nevertheless acquired slightly later in its full syntactic form. This is taken as an indication that the V3 structure is syntactically more complex, and possibly also more marked.