Complex Predicatesin the Early Speech of Yoruba Children

No Thumbnail Available



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Akungba Journal of Linguistics and Literatures, 7 10-27, Department of Linguistics and Languages, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko


This paper examines early complex predicates of Yoruba-speaking children. The paper addresses the question of whether complex predicates are available to children in the early stages of grammatical development and also the types of complex predicates available. Serial verb constructions and splitting verbs are examined. The paper studies the early complex predicates of children acquiring Yoruba in terms of the Uniformity of Theta Assignment Hypothesis couched in the Minimalist Programme. The database consists of longitudinal studies of three children, Damilare, Temiloluwa and Tola who are between the ages of eighteen (18) and thirty-six (36) months. These children were recorded daily by their parents. The paper finds that Yoruba-speaking children begin to use complex predicates from age two and by age three, they have acquired almost adult-like competence in the use of these predicates. The paper accounted for the co-occurrence of serial verb constructions and splitting verbs in the early speech of Yoruba-speaking children. The paper concludes that before the children can begin to use complex predicates, they must have acquired a good knowledge of the semantic classes of verbs and of thematic roles.



Complex Predicates, Language Acquisition, Yoruba, splitting verbs,, serial verbs, verbs