The narrowing acquisition path: From expressive small clauses to declaratives

We analyze expressive small clauses like you fool (and their counterparts in other languages) as contributors of expressive content. Independently known restrictions on expressive content in turn allow us to derive their limited distribution. The theory has ramifications for child language. It correctly predicts which root-level small clauses will survive into adult grammar and which will be blocked by the acquisition of higher functional projections. It also opens the way to an analysis of children’s one- and two-word utterances as denoting expressive, rather than straightforwardly propositional, content.
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