This paper uses data concerning the acquisition of Quechua causatives to explore the development of morphological features that reflect variation in argument structure: (1) case-marking on the causees of morphological causatives and (2) transitivity permutations for change-of-state verbs. Quechua speakers assign to the causee varying degrees of volitional control through use of different case inflections. As to Quechua change-of-state verbs, those corresponding to verbs that participate in the causative alternation in other languages, such as English break and boil, pose a particular challenge. According to Levin and Rappaport Hovav (1994, 1995), these verbs tend to be basically transitive across languages, with the intransitive variant formed morphologically, and they express eventualities that are externally caused. In Quechua, many such verbs are basically intransitive, with the transitive variant constructed morphologically. Naturalistic data from five Quechua-speaking children aged 2;4 through 3;5 suggest that the causee is initially expressed as a directly affected object, lacking volitional control. Also, children may first construe all change-of-state verbs as basically transitive, expressing changes construed as externally caused.
- first language acquisition,
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