Word order variation and language contact
Evidence of a structural expansion of Christa’s early VP grammar becomes available only as of file 4. Before, however, the data reveal a more liberal use of different word orders in file 2, including sentential arrangements that represent candidates for borrowing from DGS. Examples (621)-(622)) involve the basic SOV order of that language (note that the first example involves a finite, the second a nonfinite verb form). Other cases (see example (623)) seem to involve a translation of a DGS (classifier) description into written German, whereby the DGS expression is analysed into meaning units that would be expressed simultaneously in DGS (note, though, that the figure-ground principle is not applied in this case). The sequential concatenation of elements in L2 German also reflect remaining lexical gaps at this stage (for example, the activity of sticking the head into the jar would involve the use of the verb stecken ‘to stick’). Further, example (624) shows that she also uses the preposition auf (‘on’) to mark the relation between the verb and its complement. Recall that the use of auf to serve this function was also observed in the data of other participants in the study.
If we look at the role of contact phenomena after the expansion of the VP grammar (as of file 4), we can see that the few constructions with verb drop produced in files 4 and 5 involve predicative constructions in which the copula is dropped (cf. (625) from file 4 and (627) from file 5) or expressions for which the target lexical devices are not fully mastered (cf. (626)). A note is due regarding the latter type of error involving a combination of a noun with a preposition (bescheid auf, ‘information on’) in the place of the target periphrastic nounverb combination bescheid geben (‘to let know’). Notice that in target German Bescheid (a noun) cannot be used as a verb unless combined with the function verb geben (‘give’). The expression seems to represent a loan calque from the equivalent DGS agreement verb that is morphologically analysed and translated into a sequential expression in written German, whereby auf is used to mark the relation between the verb and its object. As the only two verbless clauses in file 5 contain the expression sauer (cf. (627)), it appears the sauer expression represents the last relic of this type of lexical borrowing (all other expressions that would appear with verb drop before, such as Angst, ‘fright’, or da+X, ‘there+X’, combinations, occur with a verb in this file).