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Home arrow Language & Literature arrow Bilingualism and Deafness: On Language Contact in the Bilingual Acquisition of Sign Language and Written Language
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Further development

Coexistence of head-initial and head-final IP structures

Constructions containing periphrastic verb constructions with the auxiliary verb haben (‘to have’) appear in file 2; yet they are difficult to interpret in structural terms as the placement of the auxiliary alternates between the left and the right periphery of the sentence, and in several instances the auxiliary appears twice in the same sequence.

At closer inspection, it becomes apparent that the alternation is not random but follows a pattern, whereby the form haben (infinitive, 2nd or 3rd pers. plural) appears sentence-finally, while the form hat (3rd person singular) appears in the left periphery of the sentence. The distribution can be observed in example (595), a sequence that is also illustrative regarding the type of concatenated propositions difficult to interpret in a clear-cut manner. By assumption, the intended meaning can be paraphrased as follows: the boy shouts at the dog “what have you (done)” (the sequence is part of the episode in which the dog sticks his head into the jar). Following this interpretation, we assume that there is a blend of two complex verb forms, namely hat ... schreit’ and schreit haben (whereby “schreit’ would be attributed the status of a past participle, used in the place of the target form geschrien). Example (596) provides further support for the availability of different verb positions. What these examples reveal is that the derivational relationship between the different verb positions has not yet been established. Hence, Hamida’s overgenerating syntax at the time results in sequences that appear to be blends of alternative structures, in particular, where they involve a combination of various propositions. (597) is a remarkably complex example, in which verschwunden ist might represent a precursor of a relative clause modifying the subject of the interrogative clause (in the sense of “where is the frog that disappeared”).

Other examples of concatenated propositions such as (598) seem to serve a more pragmatic function. At closer inspection, this sequence involves three different propositions providing information about the boy and the dog’s activity (the search), the location (the woods), and its purpose (to find the frog). Note that the repetition of the verb suchen (‘to search’) is reminiscent of the verb sandwiches observed in the participants’ DGS narratives. The combination of the prepostion zu (‘to’) and an infinitive form in the third part of the sequence might be interpreted as a precursor of a final clause with the conjunction um... zu (‘in order to’) to express the purpose of the search (in this case, haben is used as a main verb).

Variation regarding verb placement continues to occur in subsequent files. In file 3, for example, Hamida produces a sequence like (599), which we might take as an indication that the target German verb bracket is established at the time, even though errors continue to occur not only in participle formation, but also in the expression of the auxiliary, as the element is dropped in several sequences (compare (600) and (601)) (this continues to occur in subsequent files). With respect to the directionality of the IP, sequences without an auxiliary verb remain ambiguous even though the final position of the participle might be taken as an indication of the target-like head-final setting of the VP headedness parameter. The assumption that Hamida’s IP remains mobile, that is, not fixed to either value, is corroborated by verb final coordinated structures she produces about a year later in file 5 (note that we use the notion of mobile IP in the sense described by Gawlitzek-Maiwald et al. (2002) (cf. section 4.5.2). It is important to note that the apparent IP final structures are not only used in the coordinated clause after the conjunction und (‘and’) (cf. (602)); as we can see in (603) and (604) verb final structures with the auxiliary sein are also used in main clauses (incidentally, the examples also document errors in the choice of the auxiliary and the participle forms).

 
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