The linguistic expression of information structure, i.e., the formal reflexes of an utterance’s discourse integration, has begun to receive increasing attention in the study of first as well as second language acquisition. The primary dimensions of information structure often addressed in the acquisition literature include “givenness” (maintained vs. new information) and “aboutness” (topic vs. comment), as well as emphasis and highlighting (e.g., contrastive topic, focus and their interaction with focus sensitive operators of different types) (Dimroth and Narasimhan 2012).A substantial body of research demonstrates that children acquire – with little apparent effort – the basic aspects of the ambient language by the age of five years. But in addition to acquiring the phonology, lexicon, and morphosyntax of their language, children must also learn how to tailor their use of these linguistic devices according to the informational needs of their interlocutors across communicative contexts. However we do not yet understand how children learn to mark information structure in their language. Prelinguistic children possess the rudimentary socio-cognitive capacities underpinning information structure, such as the ability to distinguish referents based on their novelty or familiarity (Friedman 1972; Slater et al. 1982) as well as sensitivity to others as beings with informational states
Linguistics Vanguard – de Gruyter
Published: Mar 9, 2018
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