Gutzmann, Daniel and Katharina Turgay. 2011. Funktionale Kategorien in der PP und deren Zweitspracherwerb. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft 30.2. 169–221. doi: 10.1515/ZFSW.2011.008


The prepositional phrase (PP) in German has complex morpho-syntactic properties and therefore constitutes a challenge for children both in first and in second language acquisition. The prototypical German PP is headed by a preposition selecting for a determiner phrase (DP). Beside using a determiner and correctly marking the morpho-syntactic features inside the DP, the children have to learn that there is a prepositional element that is the head of the PP. Since the structure of the PP can be divided further into functional projections for local and directional PPs, there are at least three functional elements for the children to be learned. We conducted an empirical study with 40 Turkish speaking primary school children in L2 acquisition together with two control groups of children in L1 acquisition to examine how the functional categories inside the PP are acquired and whether their acquisition concurs to the hierarchical ordering and acquisition pattern attested for the first language acquisition of German, or whether a transfer from their L1 can be observed. Our data shows similarities to the attested acquisition order, at least to its later stages, but does not concur to the hierarchical ordering since local PPs seem to be acquired later than directional ones even if the latter are ordered higher in the phrasal hierarchy. Furthermore, we observe no transfer from the subjects’ L1 regarding the linearization of the preposition, even though Turkish PPs are head final.