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Open Access oti, na and Negative Markers in the L1 Production of Greek wh-Questions

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oti, na and Negative Markers in the L1 Production of Greek wh-Questions

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The present paper investigates the use of oti, na and negation in wh-question production in L1 Greek. Children’s preference is explored for use of oti and na, and for use of the negation markers ðen and min. These elements have been extensively studied from a theoretical perspective, yet they remain poorly investigated from an acquisition perspective, hence the present study. In long-distance wh-questions na is predicted to be preferred over oti due to its stronger entrenchment as clause-introducing element and as mood marker; in short-distance questions, however, na is predicted to be less preferred than the indicative due to the enriched modal semantics it carries in matrix clause environments. In negative matrix questions ðen is expected to be the preferred choice, since min occurs with na, which carries an extra semantic/pragmatic load. To test these predictions, a group of ninety four-to-seven-year-old Greek children participated in elicited production tasks designed mainly along the methodological principles of Crain and Thornton (1998). The results were generally in line with initial expectations. Children resorted mostly to na in long-distance contexts and to the semantically simpler indicative questions in short-distance contexts. With negative questions, higher accurate use rates were attested for target ðen than for target min, reflecting the simpler semantics associated with the former. Overall, these findings provide evidence that children opt for economy, with semantic factors contributing to their economy-based choices.

Affiliations: 1: School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki evangelia.asproudi@gmail.com

10.1163/15699846-13130106
/content/journals/10.1163/15699846-13130106
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The present paper investigates the use of oti, na and negation in wh-question production in L1 Greek. Children’s preference is explored for use of oti and na, and for use of the negation markers ðen and min. These elements have been extensively studied from a theoretical perspective, yet they remain poorly investigated from an acquisition perspective, hence the present study. In long-distance wh-questions na is predicted to be preferred over oti due to its stronger entrenchment as clause-introducing element and as mood marker; in short-distance questions, however, na is predicted to be less preferred than the indicative due to the enriched modal semantics it carries in matrix clause environments. In negative matrix questions ðen is expected to be the preferred choice, since min occurs with na, which carries an extra semantic/pragmatic load. To test these predictions, a group of ninety four-to-seven-year-old Greek children participated in elicited production tasks designed mainly along the methodological principles of Crain and Thornton (1998). The results were generally in line with initial expectations. Children resorted mostly to na in long-distance contexts and to the semantically simpler indicative questions in short-distance contexts. With negative questions, higher accurate use rates were attested for target ðen than for target min, reflecting the simpler semantics associated with the former. Overall, these findings provide evidence that children opt for economy, with semantic factors contributing to their economy-based choices.

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/content/journals/10.1163/15699846-13130106
2013-01-01
2016-12-08

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