Children's comprehension of relative clauses in an ergative language: the case of Basque

Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics

The investigation of the comprehension of L1 relative clauses across different languages has shownthat subject relatives (SRs) are acquired earlier and responded to more accurately than object 10relatives (ORs). Most of this work has been based on SVO nominative-absolutive languages. Inthis article we present the results obtained in a binary picture-sentence matching task from L1Basque, a highly inflected, ergative-absolutive, SOV language with prenominal relatives. The resultsobtained reveal that in Basque, ORs are responded to more accurately than SRs, which indicatesthat children do not comprehend SRs with more accuracy universally. The results are discussed in 15the light of different hypotheses put forward in the literature in order to account for the previouslyobserved SR preference.