Abstract: "Long-Distance WH-Questions in Child Language"

Children acquiring several languages (English, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese) produce medial wh-questions, as in (i) and (ii), where an "extra" wh-phrase appears in embedded SpecCP:

(i) Who do you think who was really good? (ii) What do you think what animal runs very fast?

These productions are interesting mainly because:

  • The target languages do not allow these constructions, but
  • There are adult languages in which they are possible (German, Hindi, Hungarian, Frisian, etc).

Most previous accounts claim that children's productions reflect a stage in their grammatical development. In this talk, I'll present an alternative, processing account which I believe has advantages over its grammatical competitors.

The talk will reflect the initial stage of my research and will discuss empirical, theoretical and methodological issues related the production of children's medial questions.