Acquisition, variation, change: On the definite article and kinship nouns in Italian

Research output: Working paper


This paper treets the acquisition, variation and historical change in the use of the article with kinship names in Italian, or more precisely, the Florentine variety of Italian. The development in acquisition data and historical texts is compared regarding the use of the definitive article together with kinship nouns. The children studied in this paper classify DPs in non-target-like ways
apparently following semantic criteria such as inalienability, uniqueness, or familiarity. On the basis of such categories, children spontaneously create noun classes distinguished by precise morpho-syntactic properties. The development of morphological definiteness in these
children seems to be guided by the subsequent appearance of deixis and number: a target-like usage of the article is reached only when the features person and plural are in place in the children’s productions. Person and plural are the very two categories that are known to correlate with morphological definiteness on kinship nouns in modern Italian dialects, as well as in the 14th century Florentine data. Hence, the origins of dialectal variation and historical change lies in child language.
Original languageItalian
Number of pages34
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Publication series

NameQuaderni di lavoro dell'ASIS
ISSN (Print)1826-8242

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Languages and Literature

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