This study reconsiders the acquisition of relative clauses based on data from two sentencerepetition tasks. Usingmaterials modeled on the relative constructions of spontaneous child speech, we asked four-year-old English- and German-speaking children to repeat six different types of relative clauses. Although English and German relative clauses are structurally very different, the results were similar across studies: intransitive subject relatives caused fewer errors than transitive subject relatives and direct object relatives, which in turncaused fewer errors thanin direct object relatives and oblique relatives; finally, genitive relatives caused by far the most problems. Challenging previous analyses in which the acquisition of relative clauses has been explained by the varying distance between filler and gap, we propose a multifactorial analysis in which the acquisitionprocess is determined primarily by the similarity betweenthe various types of relative clauses and their relationship to simple sentences.


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pp. 882-906
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