chapter  3
46 Pages

Knowledge of Finiteness

This chapter investigates the more formal aspects of Patty's knowledge of English by first turning to her acquisition of the finiteness distinction in English. It discusses the nature of finiteness in general and previous acquisition findings and focuses on the data from Patty. The chapter provides enough of a context in which to interpret Patty's data within the second language acquisition context and in comparison with data from first language acquisition studies. It focuses on more formal and conceptual issues associated with finiteness and the sorts of evidence available for it in the linguistic environment in different languages. The chapter reviews some of the theoretical issues that have been raised with respect to finiteness, especially the existence of so-called optional or root infinitives in child L1 acquisition and the hypothesized relationship between inflectional morphology and the abstract feature of finiteness.