Scientific article
Open access

Root infinitives in Jamaican Creole

Published inGlossa, vol. 39, no. 1, 127
Publication date2021-11-26
First online date2021-11-26

This paper addresses the question of the existence and manifestation of Root Infinitives (RIs) in the acquisition of a creole language, Jamaican Creole (JC). It examines JC children’s omission of progressive and prospective aspectual markers in the clausal map in order to determine if early JC includes a root infinitive (RI) stage. Non-target-consistent bare verb structures in child JC are shown to have distributional properties which have been claimed to be hallmarks of RIs: in particular, they occur in declaratives (and in yes-no questions), but not in wh-questions, and they typically co-occur with null subjects, whereas overt subjects are required in clauses with fully specified aspectual markers. We argue that these properties are expected under a truncation approach (Rizzi 1993/4; De Lisser et al. 2016), rather than other approaches to RI. Additionally, truncation is compared to the “growing trees” approach introduced in Friedmann, Belletti and Rizzi (this volume), according to which learners’ productions start with minimal structures in a bottom up fashion, and then higher zones get added on top of the structure as development proceeds, following the hierarchical organization uncovered by cartographic work. We conclude that these approaches are compatible, and possibly reflect different stages in language development.

Citation (ISO format)
DE LISSER, Tamirand Nnena et al. Root infinitives in Jamaican Creole. In: Glossa, 2021, vol. 39, n° 1, p. 127. doi: 10.16995/glossa.5705
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal2397-1835

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