We're pleased to announce that this week's speaker in our 2009-2010 colloquium series will be Kamil Ud Deen of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, with a talk entitled "Principle C in Adult and Child Thai" (abstract follows).
Due to the large number of people leaving to attend BUCLD this coming weekend (including the speaker), the talk will be at a special time:
Wednesday, Nov 4, 12:00 PM
1108 Marie Mount Hall
We hope to see you there! --Colloquium Committee
Principle C in Adult and Child Thai
Children in a wide range of languages show evidence of Principle C at the earliest testable ages (Crain & McKee, 1985; Kazanina & Phillips, 2001; Lukyanenko et.al., 2008; amongst many others). This has been taken as evidence that Principle C is a universal, innate principle of grammar (Crain, 1991). However, Thai is a language in which Principle C appears to be violable, at least in certain contexts. This could be taken as initial evidence that Principle C is in fact not part of Universal Grammar, but is learned from experience (or in the case of Thai, not learned because the experience does not contain Principle C). Moreover, if Principle C is learned from the input, then we predict that Thai children will never show evidence of Principle C, and will thus pattern like Thai adults from the earliest testable ages. But if Principle C is part of UG, Thai children should initially show evidence of Principle C in contexts that adults do not, only to 'unlearn' this over time. In this talk, I first describe the contexts in which Principle C applies in adult Thai. I then show that Thai children overgeneralize Principle C: they disallow a coindexed reading in contexts where adults allow it. This shows that Principle C is innately specified, and fully available to Thai children at early ages.
Thai adults apply Principle C in contexts where the relevant R- expressions are full DPs (modified by a classifier or a demonstrative), but not when the relevant R-expressions are unmodified by classifiers/demonstratives (Larson, 2005), as in (1).
DP: [Elephant CL big]_i said that [elephant CL big]_*i / j won the
Non-DP: Elephant_i said that elephant_i won the competition
We tested 66 Thai children (aged 4;5-6;2) on two Truth Value Judgment Tasks (Crain & McKee, 1985), and the results reveal that (i) Thai children, like Thai adults, adhere to Principle C in the DP condition, rejecting a co-indexed reading when the two R-expressions are full DPs; (ii) Thai children, *unlike* Thai adults, also adhere to Principle C in the non-DP context, rejecting the coindexed reading in contexts that adults accept it. Thus Thai children show evidence of Principle C not only at the earliest testable ages, but in contexts in which Principle C does not apply in the adult language. Taken together, these facts provide strong and novel evidence that Principle C is specified by Universal Grammar and is available to children even in conditions in which the input is variable and potentially inconsistent with Principle C.