This study searches for similarities in adult and child language systems in
the domains of tense, modality and aspect (TMA). It takes its starting
point in Functional Grammar, in which grammatical TMA expressions are
classified according to their scope. Wider scope correlates with an
increase in cognitive complexity and a decrease in communicative
motivation. This leads to the expectation that TMA expressions with wider
scope behave differently from expressions with narrower scope both in adult
and in child language.
Several studies are conducted. A detailed analysis of TMA expressions in
English serves to find out if their scope plays a role in synchrony and
diachrony. A typological study is carried out to answer the question how
scope differences are reflected in diachronic developments, synchronic
configurations, frequency, and morphosyntactic properties of TMA
expressions. The acquisition order of TMA morphemes is examined in detail
for English and more generally for 24 other languages. Here the acquisition
order of TMA expressions with different scopes, and the crosslinguistic
similarities in the acquisition of TMA expressions are studied.
The study provides new theoretical insights in TMA. It reveals remarkable
similarities in the development of TMA expressions in diachrony, synchrony
and first language acquisition that provide a strong argument for more
interdisciplinary research on language and language use. The book is of
interest to typologists, psycholinguists and those interested in functional
models of language.