Topicalization and object omission in child language
This article offers a closer look at the relationship between object omission in child language and the acquisition of object clitics. The study isolates a context in French where the use of an object clitic is not only possible, or optimal, but mostly obligatory in the adult grammar, namely the clitic left-dislocation context. In addition, the article contrasts French with English, a language that requires a null element in a similar context, topicalization. By exploring the topicalization structures, the study separates the acquisition of object clitics from object omission phenomena. The results confirm those obtained from other experimental methods and from naturalistic observation: French children, in contrast to adults, uniformly prefer null objects across different domains; they continue to do so even in a syntactically triggered context such as clitic left-dislocation. Thus, the article provides evidence for a null object stage in child acquisition independent of the parametric settings of the target language.
from First Language