The Northern Subject Rule: Studying the Type of Subject effect in Native Dutch speakers
The current study was designed to see whether advanced Dutch speakers of English show a sensitivity towards the Type of Subject constraint of the Northern Subject Rule (NSR). The NSR is a morphosyntactic phenomenon which allows for an -s on the verb in a third person plural context. This study only used irregular plural subject items because these items do not end on an -s. It could be argued that there is possible rhyming effect with regular plural items as both the verb and subject end on an -s. If Dutch learners show a sensitivity towards the Type of Subject-constraint, it cannot be due to the input they received but innate principles could be at work. A pre-test was needed so that the experimental test was unbiased. The unbiased pre-test was used for the experimental test. Both tests had two possible answers for the participants to choose from: one sentence with the Type of Subject constraint and one sentence without. The pre-test did not contain the -s on the verb which marks the NSR. The results suggest that Dutch learners show no significant preference for the Type of Subject constraint but show a step in the right direction.
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