We are performing computerized analyses of child corpora. One project examines
the extent to which children’s early productions are similar to their parents’. Our work suggests that even at the beginning of combinatorial speech children abstractly represent syntactic categories and have an abstract – if limited – grammar. Another school of thought suggests that children copy their parents and have little grammatical knowledge. We are trying to answer this question by looking at transcriptions of children’s early speech and their parental input, using both cross-sectional and longitudinal corpora. We examine similarities and differences between children and their parents and also examine how productive children’s early uses of different syntactic categories are.
We are also examining early child speech to determine how much of it is structured and how much is unstructured.