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A Longitudinal Study of Principles of Control and Pronominal Reference in Child English

Helen Smith Cairns, Dana McDaniel, Jennifer Ryan Hsu and Michelle Rapp
Language
Vol. 70, No. 2 (Jun., 1994), pp. 260-288
DOI: 10.2307/415829
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/415829
Page Count: 29
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A Longitudinal Study of Principles of Control and Pronominal Reference in Child English
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Abstract

This article reports a nine-month longitudinal study of fifteen children who, at the beginning of the study, ranged in age from 3;10 to 4;11. In the course of the study we traced the development of principles of control in their grammars and tested hypotheses about the linguistic analyses underlying the observed nonadult interpretations of constructions such as Grover tries PRO to jump over the fence. Big Bird tells Ernie PRO to jump over the fence, and Ernie kisses Cookie Monster before PRO jumping over the fence. The study also investigated the children's judgments of pronominal reference in sentences such as Ernie kisses Cookie Monster before he jumps over the fence. The results confirm a developmental sequence that is driven by lexical learning and changing structural analyses. They also provide further information about a period experienced by some children in which pronominal reference is constrained in a manner that is clearly related to control phenomena.

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