Clitic right dislocation in English: Cross-linguistic influence in multilingual acquisition

Megan Devlin, Raffaella Folli, Alison Henry, Christina Sevdali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates target-deviant constructions produced in English by a child acquiring three languages simultaneously from birth: English, Italian and Scottish Gaelic. These constructions involve the weak pronoun ‘it’ doubling direct object DPs which are dislocated to the right-periphery of the sentence. Additionally, we consider subject dislocations, where the child dislocates the subject to the left and the right periphery of the sentence, and doubles it with a variety of pronouns. We argue that both of these constructions are produced as a result of cross-linguistic influence from Italian, where dislocations in general and clitic right dislocations in particular are very frequent in the adult input. We analyse these constructions as involving adjunction. Finally, regarding the wider question of cross-linguistic influence and the vulnerability of the C domain, we show that the notion of vulnerability is not necessarily tied to the presence of the C domain: while cross-linguistic influence happens with dislocation phenomena exactly because they are syntax–discourse phenomena, it is clear that children can produce them even before they acquire the C-domain fully.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-124
Number of pages24
Early online date20 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Jul 2015


  • Clitics
  • Dislocation
  • Clitic-right dislocation
  • Multilingual acquisition
  • Cross-linguistic influence
  • Frequency
  • Input
  • Adjunction


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