UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 13 (2001)

Aspects of aspect: Acquiring grammatical aspect in Modern Greek: The interaction of aspect with aspectual adverbials in children’s grammars




This paper gives a detailed presentation of a study that was conducted at a nursery school in Greece, with Greek subjects aged 1,9,19 to 4,3,15. Our elicited imitation task focused on the acquisition of verbal aspect by Greek children, with particular reference to their comprehension of the semantics of perfective vs imperfective viewpoint aspect and to their ability to successfully combine aspectual adverbials with verbs set for the perfective or imperfective aspectual value. Thus, the role of adverbial expressions in the determination of aspect in MG as well as the children's awareness and mastery of the system is examined. In respect of the positioning of aspectual adverbials in children’s grammars, we found that upon reproduction children had a strong preference to place them in a position immediately following the verb irrespective of their position in the input. These findings were interpreted syntactically (following Cinque 1999) both in comparison with the adult grammar and also in terms of the acquisition of the semantics of aspect and of aspectual adverbials.

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