The Interaction of Input and UG in the Acquisition of Verb Movement in a Dialect of Norwegian

  • Marit R. Westergaard Department of Language and Linguistics, CASTL, University of Tromsø
Keywords: information structure, split CP, subject positions, topicalizations, verb second, V2, wh-questions, word order


In this paper it is argued that a principle of information structure provided by Universal Grammar (UG) may interact with input in the acquisition of word order. In a study which investigates three children from the age of approximately 1;9 to 3 acquiring a Northern dialect of Norwegian, it has previously been shown that word order patterns in certain types of wh-questions which are sensitive to subtle distinctions in the information value of the subject (given vs. new) are acquired extremely early (Westergaard 2003a). This paper presents a study of the same children’s topicalization constructions, and it is shown that, although these patterns of information structure do not appear in the input, the children nevertheless show traces of these patterns in the non-target forms that they occasionally produce. Thus, in their very early production of topicalization constructions the children seem to be guided by a word order principle based on information structure, which could be taken as support for this as a word order preferred by UG.