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Accessibility of relative constructions and writing acquisition

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Gabriela Maria de Oliveira Codinhoto
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: São José do Rio Preto. 2016-07-28.
Institution: Universidade Estadual Paulista (Unesp). Instituto de Biociências Letras e Ciências Exatas. São José do Rio Preto
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Advisor: Roberto Gomes Camacho

The main objective of this research was the study of restrictions on the accessibility of relative constructions in the writing acquisition process from a Dutch functionalist perspective. Starting from the model proposed by Keenan and Comrie (1977), which predicts (morpho)syntactic restrictions to relativization, we proposed a new look at the accessibility in relative clauses, no longer based solely on morphosyntax, but also and especially on pragmatic, semantic and cognitive processes, as the ones proposed by Dik (1997) and O'Grady (2011). The fundamental hypothesis of this work is to prove the prominence not of the grammatical relation of the subject, as postulated by Keenan and Comrie (1977), but of a scale of topicity and animacy and a scale of the distance between filler and gap in relative clauses, both cognitively and referentially. Among the morphosyntactic coding processes involved in the relative construction, we were interested in examining the hypothesis that the relative pronoum strategy is not present in the grammar of students during the formal literacy process, which was already sustained by Kenedy (2007) in a generative-based study on language acquisition, and also in defending the hypothesis that, in fact, children who already master the gapping strategy, which is the most frequent in adult speech (cf. CAMACHO, 2012; 2014; 2016; unpublished), also extend it from the position of subject and direct object to all other functions that can be relativized in Portuguese. In order to confirm or refute the presented hypotheses, we used as our analysis corpus some texts produced by elementary school students in two public schools in São José do Rio Preto, which belong to the database of written texts compiled by Capristano (2001-2004), in the scope of the studies produced by the Estudos sobre a Linguagem Research Group. The analysis of the results allowed us to conclude that, besides providing students with the knowledge on morphosyntactic features and properties of relatives, the development of the learning process also activates a greater understanding of contextual variables of use, which consequently generates an increase not only in the frequency but also in the quality of constructed information. In relation to the semantic and cognitive criteria that work in relativization, it was possible to confirm the hypothesis by O'Grady (2011) that in languages with post-nominal relatives such as Portuguese there is a supremacy of accessibility of the subject at the expense of the object, as predicted by the Accessibility Hierarchy (AH), since both have the same cognitive and functional status. In fact, the main difference between the two most basic syntactic functions in Keenam and Comrie hierarchy (1977) is motivated by semantic differences, as animacy feature of the participating entities in the relativization of the object. The data showed, therefore, that the animacy scale is more relevant to the relativization than the syntactic functions, corroborating the initial hypothesis of this work. (AU)

Grantee:Gabriela Maria de Oliveira Codinhoto
Support Opportunities: Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate