Acquisition of clitic climbing by European Portuguese children

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This study investigates the acquisition of clitic climbing by European Portuguese speaking children considering spontaneous production data from three children aged 1;5 to 3;11 (Santos’ corpus: Santos et al., 2014) and data from an elicited production task administered to 64 children aged 5;2 to 8;2. The study shows that: clitic climbing is acquired early, as expected for a parametric property that is dependent on the specification of the functional domain; there is early sensitivity to properties of the adult grammar, although children take a while to determine which specific verbs allow or disallow clitic climbing. In optional contexts younger children prefer clitic climbing constructions over non-climbing constructions. We discuss these results in light of the notion of complexity in language development.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcquisition and L2 Learning
Subtitle of host publicationThe view from Romance
EditorsLarisa Avram, Anca Sevcenco, Veronica Tomescu
Place of PublicationAmsterdão
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)9789027228192
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • European portuguese
  • Clitic climbing
  • Restructuring
  • Complexity


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