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  • Single and double clitics in adult and child grammar by Teodora Radeva-Bork
  • Stanka A. Fitneva
Teodora Radeva-Bork. Single and double clitics in adult and child grammar. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2012. [xvi] + 230 pp.

Clitics have intrigued linguists for decades. By definition, they occupy an intermediate position between words and affixes (e.g., ‘s in English). They fulfill syntactic roles but do not carry stress and form a phonological unit with the preceding or following word. In Single and double clitics in adult and child grammar, Teodora Radeva-Bork presents fresh observations and new data on the topic. The main contribution of the work is empirical data on the acquisition of direct-object clitics and direct-object clitic doubling in Bulgarian. The book, however, makes important theoretical contributions to the understanding of these phenomena cross-linguistically.

While the intended audience of the book is scholars of syntax and first-language acquisition, the book is accessible also to non-experts. Chapter 1 provides a useful overview of the book, chapter 2 goes into depth in the definition of clitics and the evolution of theoretical thinking about them, and chapter 7 presents a bullet-point summary of the main arguments and findings. Extensive cross-referencing within and between chapters also contributes to the clarity and coherence of the work.

The core is clearly organized, presenting two pairs of a theory-focused chapter and an empirical chapter. The first pair (chapters 2 and 3) focuses on single clitics, and the second (chapters 4 and 5) on clitic doubling. Chapter 2 provides an overview of the definition of clitics, their spread, and the current theoretical landscape with respect to single clitics. Bulgarian has direct-object clitics, indirect-object clitics, and auxiliary clitics, but the book concentrates on direct-object clitics. The chapter develops the idea that Bulgarian direct-object clitics (“clitics” henceforth) are case markers (K heads) but that they also have agreement properties.

Chapter 3 begins by shedding light on an intriguing pattern in the crosslinguistic data on the acquisition of clitics. In some languages (Catalan, French, Italian, and European Portuguese) clitics emerge [End Page 311] around age three and go through a stage during which children omit them. In other languages (Spanish, Romanian, Greek, and Croatian), children begin to produce clitics around age two and make few errors. Unlike other scholars, who have focused on explaining clitic acquisition in a single language (usually one showing a late emergence pattern), Radeva-Bork looks for an explanation of the cross-linguistic pattern. She suggests that the explanation can be found in the Unique Checking Constraint (Wexler 1998). On the basis of this constraint, she suggests that Bulgarian children should show early emergence of clitics, even though other recent data have suggested that this is not the case (Ivanov 2008). But Radeva-Bork supports her prediction with data from two elicited production studies with Bulgarian twoto four-yearold children, the data for which are extensively presented and discussed. The children show practically error-free use of the clitics, a pattern indistinguishable from adult performance.

Clitic doubling refers to the doubling of a verbal argument by a weak pronoun (the clitic) within the same clause. Chapter 4 overviews the spread of this phenomenon (with a focus on the Balkans) and its current treatments. Radeva-Bork argues that, unlike in Romance languages where clitic doubling may result from left or right dislocation of an argument, in Bulgarian it is genuine clitic doubling. This is shown by the lack of a prosodic boundary between the clitic and its adjacent associate. The chapter also makes the case that there are three types of triggers of clitic doubling in Bulgarian: object marking (especially when non-SUBJ-first word order is used), topic marking, and accusative or dative experiencers (again conditioned by word order).1 Previously research has emphasized semantic factors, and Radeva-Bork presents data suggesting that syntactic conditions and information structure are stronger constraints on clitic doubling in colloquial Bulgarian. [End Page 312]

After reviewing acquisition data from Spanish, Greek, and Albanian, chapter 5 goes on to report a study on the acquisition of clitic doubling in Bulgarian. In particular, the study investigates the...


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