Syntactic structure and information structure: The acquisition of Portuguese clefts and Be-fragments

Maria Lobo, Ana Lúcia Santos, Carla Soares-Jesel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


This article investigates the acquisition of different types of clefts and of be-fragments in European Portuguese. We first present the main syntactic and discourse properties of different cleft structures and of be-fragments in European Portuguese, and we discuss how data from first language acquisition may contribute to evaluate different theoretical proposals. Based on data from spontaneous production and on data from an elicited production task, we argue that: (i) there is a clear asymmetry, stemming from intervention effects, between subject clefts and object/adjunct clefts, not only in spontaneous production but also in elicited data, which confirms previous findings on other structures involving A’ dependencies; (ii) the production of elided clefts is easier to the children’s processing system than the production of full standard clefts; (iii) acquisition data confirm the analysis of certain fragments (be-fragments) as elided clefts; (iv) the asymmetry between clefts featuring a wh-constituent and other clefts should be understood as late development of a particular type of anaphoric dependency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-174
Number of pages33
JournalLanguage Acquisition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2016


  • Romance languages
  • Syntax
  • Movement Phenomena
  • Anaphora/Binding


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