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How children build their morphosyntax: the case of French

    • Published online: 01 June 2000

Early morphosyntax is very rich and uniform in young French-speaking children. The present study aims to give a thorough analysis of the morphosyntax produced at the outset of multi-word speech, with a classification of free language produced at 2;0 by 27 French-speaking children. The corpus was fully tagged by an automatic part-of-speech tagger. A classification performed with words taken in isolation shows a clear difference between the categories used in single-word utterances and those used in multi-word utterances. A classification performed with word sequences reveals surprisingly adult-like sequences of syntactic categories and words; the non-adult combinations are few in a French child's language. The very successful use of the tagger demonstrates the morphosyntactic coherence of the child's speech. When compared with adult language, the quantitative results, and more precisely the data concerning regularity and error types, contribute to the documentation of all the specificities of the emerging morphosyntax in normally developing French children.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Christophe Parisse, Laboratoire de neuropsychologie de l'enfant, Bâtiment Pharmacie, 3ème étage, Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, 47 Boulevard de l'Hôpital, 75651 Paris CEDEX 13, France. e-mail:
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This work was supported by a grant from INSERM, France: ‘Contrat de Recherche Inserm (4U009B)’. Grateful thanks to Hrafnhildur Ragnarsdóttir, Thomas Clegg and Anne Reymond for proof-reading this text.
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Journal of Child Language
  • ISSN: 0305-0009
  • EISSN: 1469-7602
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-child-language
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