University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


This paper discusses an unusual structure in the English of a trilingual child acquiring English, Italian and Scottish Gaelic. The child uses a structure where it appears that an object DP is “dou-bled” by a pronoun for an extended period of time (10 months):
(1) He don't like it dinosaur
(2) He forget it the teddy
In Italian, sentences that contain old information take two possible structures: they might contain a left dislocated topic resumed by a clitic:
(3) Il libro, l'ho letto
the book it-have.1SG read
'The book, I have read it'
These are called Clitic Left Dislocation (CLLD) structures in the literature. Alternatively, the topic (the given information) can be introduced as a right dislocated element, again linked to a clitic:
(4) L'ho letto, il libro
It-have.1SG read the book
‘I have read it, the book’
These are called clitic right dislocation (CLRD) structures. The structures produced in English by the subject of this study seem to be similar in some fundamental ways to this second kind of topi-calisation strategy. We suggest that this reflects a "deep: transfer of CLRD structures from Italian, even though at the stage when the "doubling" structures occur, there is no evidence of overt clitics in the child’s Italian. Our paper contributes to the debate in the literature concerning the existence or not of some form of transfer in multilingual acquisition