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Article

Fragments Along the Way: Minimalism as an Account of Some Stages in First Language Acquisition

Frontiers in Physiology. 2020. No. 11. P. 1-8.
Goodluck H., Kazanina N.

We discuss two instances in which the minimalist model of syntax offers a potential account of children's linguistic behavior: the Merge analysis of phrase structure and the analysis of pronominal structures and other long distance dependencies. In each case, we need to understand the relationship between performance mechanisms (the mechanisms for language production and comprehension) and the syntax on which these mechanisms draw.

In this article we will explore some of the potential that comes out of Minimalist syntax for an account of stages in language acquisition, focussing on the early emergence of word order, and the role of interface conditions in explaining children's behavior. Our discussion does not aim to be a comprehensive account of language acquisition in a Minimalist framework—such an account would require far more research, which is (to our knowledge) yet to be done. However, we can point to a common thread in the examples we discuss: In each case, we need to understand the relationship between performance mechanisms (the mechanisms for language production and comprehension) and the syntax on which these mechanisms draw.