Null Arguments in the Yoruba Child’s Early Speech

Bolanle Elizabeth Arokoyo


This paper studied null arguments in the early speech of the Yoruba child. We examined whether null subjects are more prominent than null objects and whether the usage of null subjects decreases with language development in the early utterance of the Yoruba child. We also examined the relationship between argument ellipses and finiteness. Minimalist Programme was adopted as the theoretical framework because of its provision for minimality in the processes of language acquisition.  The database was made up of longitudinal naturalistic speech output of three Yoruba-speaking children between 15and 36 months of age. We discovered the preponderance of null argument-NPs at the initial stage; subjects-NPs were easily omitted while object-NPs were hardly omitted; the three Yoruba-speaking children began to make use of overt argument-NPs from fifteen months and gradually, null argument-NPs gave way. We found no direct relationship between the acquisition of finiteness and the end of null arguments.



arguments, null, object, subject, finiteness, ellipses

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