WHAT INFLUENCES CHILDREN'S PATTERNING OF FORMS AND FUNCTIONS IN EARLY CHILD LANGUAGE?
Over the past years, there has been a growing number of studies demonstrating that children's acquisition of various aspects of linguistic structure are related to aspects of the interactional and discursive contexts (see Berman & Slobin, 1994; Budwig, 1993, 1995; Ervin-Tripp, 1977, 1989, 1993; Slobin, 1985). Children of a variety of age groups, acquiring different sorts of languages, have been noted to link the use of particular linguistic forms with clusters of semantic, pragmatic, and discursive notions. In this chapter, I attempt to go beyond the claim that children link particular linguistic devices with specific semantic and pragmatic notions, and examine the question of the basis for such linkages. Although there have been many illustrations that grammar and discourse are linked in important ways in children's early linguistic productions, there has been little attention to the study of the sources of such systematizations.
Elsewhere (see Budwig, 1993, 1995) I have argued that until fairly recently the issue of sources of form-function pairings has received little empirical investigation within functionalist approaches to child language. I have noted that a gradual shift in empirical studies has involved moving from a discussion of how the domain of language ought to be defined towards a trend to chart out various courses of development en route to adultlike usage (see Budwig, 1993). Many functionalists seem to hold some more or less implicit assumptions that what the children are doing with particular forms is "child-like." The children's use is said to be special or "deviate" from the target language they are acquiring, to the extent that adult speakers are assumed to use forms in a more decontextual way (see for instance, Bamberg, Budwig, & Kaplan, 1991; Bloom, 1991; Tomasello, 1992). Other functionalists have implicitly or explicitly assumed that what children are doing is very much like what adults are doing with forms (see for instance Van Valin, 1991)____________________