Acquiring Clitic Placement in Bilectal Settings: Interactions between Social Factors

This article examines the development of object clitic placement by children acquiring Cypriot Greek. Greek-speaking Cyprus is sociolinguistically characterized by diglossia between two varieties of Greek, the local Cypriot Greek and the official Standard Modern Greek. Arguably as a result of this situation, clitics may be placed postverbally (enclisis) or preverbally (proclisis) in the same syntactic environment; while the former is a property of Cypriot Greek and the latter is typically considered an effect of the standard language. The following issues are investigated here: (a) how such bilectal speakers distinguish between the two Greek varieties with respect to clitic placement; (b) how the acquisition of clitics develops over time; (c) how, and which, sociolinguistic factors determine clitic placement; and (d) how schooling may affect clitic placement. To address (a)–(d), a sentence completion task was used to elicit clitic productions, administered to 431 children around Cyprus ranging from 2 years 8 months to 8 years 11 months. The C5.0 machine-learning algorithm was employed to model the interaction of (socio-)linguistic factors on the development of clitic placement. The model shows that speakers acquire the relevant features very early, yet compartmentalization of form and function according to style emerges only as they engage in the larger speech community. In addition, the effects of sociolinguistic factors on clitic placement appear gradually.

Grohmann, KK, Papadopoulou. E., and Themistocleous, C., (2017) Acquiring Clitic Placement in Bilectal Settings: Interactions between Social Factors. Front. Commun. 2:5. doi: 10.3389/fcomm.2017.00005

Item Type:
acquisition of clitics, discrete bilectalism, sociolinguistic factors in language development, C5.0 algorithm, diglossia, socio-syntax of development hypothesis
Depositing User:
Grohmann Kleanthes K., Papadopoulou Elena, Themistocleous Charalambos
Date Deposited:
April 2017