Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Child Acquisition of Passive Sentences: Building Upon Animacy Assumptions from UG

Children's acquisition of passive sentences has been widely studied in an attempt to understand why children acquiring languages such as English appear to exhibit a delay in the acquisition of this structure. The present study examined semantic factors in English acquiring children's comprehension of passive sentences as a means of accounting for this delay. The results of the study indicated that animacy in the by-phrase may be the crucial factor required for passive comprehension. The process by which passive sentence structure is acquired is argued to be linked to inherent assumptions about animacy from UG which children may utilize to build the syntactic structures required to comprehend passives.