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DGS competence at the onset of the study


Word order. At the onset of this study, Christa’s word order in DGS adheres to the target constraints with the exception of a few sequences that are potential candidates for language borrowing. Constructions with object and locative complements provide evidence of target-like sentence-final verb placement (we will come across several examples in the course of the following discussion). In her

Table 3.40: Christa’s DGS profile.

Syntax-discourse interface

[file 3]

Reference forms / functions

[file 1]

Spatial relations

[file 1]

Referential shift

[file 1]

Referential establishment / maintenance


Referential shift (POV)

[file 1]

[- dom ] cl:palm

a. [pR°NpERs]1 [+ dom] [pUTcL:|j]on-HAND

‘(He = the boy) puts (him) on his hand’

b. 1< >

[- dom ] [HoLDCL:p]|N HAND

[+ dom] wave11

‘(He = the boy) waves, holding (him) in his hand’


[file 3]

a. DOG wake-up

‘The dog wakes up.’

2< >


‘How has the frog gone away?’

[file 1]

1< > call: WHERE is FROG ‘(He = the boy) calls, „where is the frog?“’



[file 1]

THEN WANT : OUTSIDE GO ‘Then (he) wants to go outside.’



[file 3]

a. SUDDENLY FROG2 HAVE IDEA ‘Suddenly the frog has an idea.’


nm: cl:body sits-and-looks-up-enthusiastically ‘He looks up, enthusiastically.’


b. IDEA [PRONpERS]1 HAVE ‘I have an idea.’



[file 3]


6 3 3 3

‘(It = the bee) is cross and stings the dog.’




[file 1]

[- dom] cl:form (container) idea , cl:form (container) [+ dom] jump-out ‘(He) has an idea, (he) gets out of the container’



[file 1]

[DETEX|ST]11 ANOTHER FROG11 ‘There is another frog.’

Verb inflection

[file 1]

1< > [- dom] cl:form (container)2 boy1 [detself]1 see2 : [+ dom] cl:form (container)2 ‘The boy sees there is a container.’

IP headedness

- see verb inflection -


VP headedness

- see verb inflection -

file 1, Christa relates the main narrative episodes in a concise manner. The temporal succession of events is expressed through the adverbial then, as is illustrated in (281), produced after the recount of the boy’s looking at the frog (cf. also

(282) and (283) among other examples discussed in the following).

Complex sentential constructions. Christa produces several complex constructions, such as the one provided in example (282) with the modal verb like-to (note also the target-like preverbal placement of the adverbial outside, or the sequence with the verb believe in (283). Complex clauses involving POVs also appear frequently in this file. Referential shifts are marked through non-manual means (change in body orientation, eye gaze direction), but referential identity of the subjects involved is not always clear, which reveals remaining deficits at the syntax-discourse interface. We will take up this issue below.

(283) constitutes an example of a repetition involving a complex clause, whereby (283b) includes additional information about where the boy believes the deer is going to accompany the boy. The use of the LBG sign is (not a sign in DGS) renders the sequence a potential candidate for language mixing. Two observations indicate that Christa uses the pattern “where is” as a formula. First, there is no evidence of a generalised use of is serving the function the copula would fulfil in German. is appears only in only in (283) and in the interrogatives mentioned (compare (284)). Secondly, as we will see below (in (287), for example) Christa correctly uses detexist in existential predicates to inform about the location of a protagonist.

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