Written German competence at the onset of the study
Word order. Word order in Simon’s first written narrative included in this study adheres rather strictly to the SVX pattern. The coordination of these patterns via the conjunction und (‘and’) as in (469) remains an exception (notice that the sequence serves the function of introducing the main characters of the story). The few sequences in which the copula is dropped follow the pattern SPrepX (cf. (470)). Against the backdrop of the elementary structures produced at the time, a sequence like the one provided in (471) is remarkable in that it shows Simon knows that the verb sehen (‘to see’) can take a clausal argument. The juxtaposition of the two clauses, however, reveals the lack of the target selective properties of the verb (a target equivalent would require an embedded clause introduced by the complementiser dass [‘that’], or, alternatively, an infinitive construction).
Verb inflection. Regarding inflectional morphology and subject-verb agreement, the analysis reveals that Simon uses the form ist (‘is’) of the German copula verb sein (‘to be’) paradigm not only with 3rd person singular subjects but also with plural 3rd person plural subject arguments (compare examples (472)-(450)). In two sequences of file 1, main verb infinitives appear combined with the copula form
ist (cf. example (450)). Main verbs appear in their infinitive form in this file (see example (451)) and throughout the whole corpus irrespective of the person and number of the subject.
Summarising, Simon’s adherence to a rigid SVX pattern as well as his use of nonfinite forms reflect the availability of an elementary structural domain, the VP.