Grammatical Features and the Acquisition of Reference offers a comparative study of the interpretation of definite articles and pronouns by Dutch and Spanish 4 – 7 your old children. It presents experimental evidence showing that children’s interpretation of definite articles and pronouns is affected by their incomplete acquisition of morphosyntactic features of the D-position, the host of both pronouns and definite articles. It is argued that as a result of this, children often interpret definite articles as expletive determiners (articles without semantic content), and third person pronouns as SE-anaphors (se in Spanish and zich in Dutch).
This study also offers evidence for the claim that young children are sensitive to inflectional morphology. It shows that children acquiring a poorly inflected language, such as Dutch, have considerably more difficulties with the adult interpretation of pronouns and definite articles than children acquiring a richly inflected language, such as Spanish.
Grammatical Features and the Acquisition of Reference will be of interest to any scholar concerned with (first) language acquisition, syntax and language variation.