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Poster: Abdollahnejad

Competing  grammars in language acquisition

Elias Abdollahnejad

Amaral & Roeper (2014), Roeper (1999) and Yang (2002) propose that all learners develop competing, even incompatible analyses of input as they work towards the target grammar. Calling that "universal bilingualism", Roeper (1999) posits the existence of such Multiple Grammars (MG) and explores their role in first language acquisition. In this paper, I discuss this proposal, in the context of Persian children’s acquisition of resumption. In Persian, resumption is obligatory in object-of-preposition and genitive relative clauses (RCs) (Taghvaipour, 2005) and optional in cases of emphasis in subject and object RCs (Windfuhr, 2010). This behavior makes it an appropriate construction to study the MG approach. Data from three Persian children (ages 1;11 to 4;2) in the CHILDES database were investigated for the frequency of RCs to see whether they begin with (and prefer) resumption or gaps in their RC production. Both input (environment) and output (production) data clearly showed a preference not to use resumption in subject and object RCs (2-6% in the input and no evidence of RP in their output). Results show that, despite its presence in the received input, the children notice the optionality of resumption in normal cases lacking emphasis. However, 100% use of resumption in object-of-preposition and genitive relative clauses in the child production data was observed which points to the presence of both resumption and gaps in the grammar of the Persian children and is in line with MG.