Laying the groundwork for the DELV (Precursor literature, dissertations, joint work of the Working Groups prior to the conceptualization of the DELV)

Publication Date



Vainikka, A. & Roeper, T. (1995) Abstract operators in early acquisition. Linguistic Review, 12, 275-310.


We wish to argue in this paper that abstract operators block extraction fo children (as they do for adults), and that such operators are available in children's syntax already from about the age of three onwards. In particular, we will be concerned with abstract operators in purpose clauses and related constructions in the production data (for example, And the chicken gave it to Bozo to eat, Adam 3;4 file 28, see Appendix A) in a comprehension experiment (for example Where did the boy buy it to splash on his face?). Given the early occurrence of these phonologically null but syntactically complex elements, we propose that the notion of an operator is something very basic in Universal Grammar and that this notion is available as soon as the appropriate syntactic position is available at S-structure.

Journal or Book Title

Linguistic Review







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