On German Verb Syntax under Age 2
Previous research on early child German suggests that verb placement is mastered early on, at least around the age of two; this finding has provided support for the idea that the full syntactic tree is present from the earliest stage of syntactic development. We show that two German children around a year and a half of age already exhibit a clear distinction between finite and non-finite utterances in terms of verb placement and the distribution of empty subjects. Although their verbal paradigms are impoverished, these children clearly already have an inflectional projection (IP) in finite clauses. However, we argue against the idea that a full syntactic tree is available at this point; rather, the data support a reduced representation without a complementizer projection (CP). Furthermore, non-finite matrix clauses, common at this early stage, lack even the inflectional projection.