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Rich Languages From Poor Inputs$
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Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini and Robert C. Berwick

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199590339

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199590339.001.0001

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Merging from the Temporal Input: On Subject‐Object Asymmetries and an Ergative Language *

Merging from the Temporal Input: On Subject‐Object Asymmetries and an Ergative Language *

Chapter:
(p.127) 9 Merging from the Temporal Input: On Subject‐Object Asymmetries and an Ergative Language*
Source:
Rich Languages From Poor Inputs
Author(s):

Itziar Laka

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199590339.003.0009

This chapter discusses how certain aspects of linguistic form specific to a language belonging to an understudied type of languages (ergative languages) yield processing results and acquisition patterns that have hitherto rarely been reported from studies of a well-studied type of languages (nominative languages). Specifically, it discusses recent results from studies on relative-clause processing in Basque that are incompatible with the widely held assumption that subject-object language processing asymmetries are universal, and that they tap into deep aspects of linguistic structure involving the core grammatical functions ‘subject-of’ and ‘object-of’. It is argued that the processing results obtained in Basque do not entail that the structural location of subjects and objects in ergative and nominative languages is different; rather they entail that morphological differences and input-initial choices have nontrivial consequences for processing.

Keywords:   linguistic form, language acquisition, nominative languages, relative-clause processing, subject-object language processing

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