Roll-Up is too complex for Romanian 5-year-olds: Evidence from recursive adjectives

Adina Camelia Bleotu, Tom Roeper


The current paper examines Romanian 5-year-olds’ comprehension and production of recursive structures involving multiple adjectives such as florile mici mari ‘flowers-the small big’, i.e., “the big small flowers”. On the basis of an experiment we conducted on 20 Romanian 5-year-olds, we show that children have the tendency to reduce recursion to coordination, the default interpretation at this stage of language acquisition. Moreover, children avoid producing recursive structures, preferring simpler forms instead, while they produce coordinative structures to a much higher extent. Since children’s performance with recursive adjectives in Romanian seems to be worse than performance with recursive prepositional phrases (Bleotu 2020), we argue that this supports the idea that, unlike prepositional phrases, multiple adjectives in Romance are derived through the complex operation of Roll-Up (Cinque 1994, 2005, 2010).


language acquisition; Romanian L1; adjectives; recursion; coordination; Roll-Up

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Copyright (c) 2021 Adina Camelia Bleotu, Tom Roeper

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