Ava Creemers


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  • Creemers, A., Don, J., & Fenger, P. (2018). Some affixes are roots, others are heads. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory, 36(1), 45-84. doi:10.1007/s11049-017-9372-1.


    A recent debate in the morphological literature concerns the status of derivational affixes. While some linguists (Marantz 1997, 2001; Marvin 2003) consider derivational affixes a type of functional morpheme that realizes a categorial head, others (Lowenstamm 2015; De Belder 2011) argue that derivational affixes are roots. Our proposal, which finds its empirical basis in a study of Dutch derivational affixes, takes a middle position. We argue that there are two types of derivational affixes: some that are roots (i.e. lexical morphemes) and others that are categorial heads (i.e. functional morphemes). Affixes that are roots show ‘flexible’ categorial behavior, are subject to ‘lexical’ phonological rules, and may trigger idiosyncratic meanings. Affixes that realize categorial heads, on the other hand, are categorially rigid, do not trigger ‘lexical’ phonological rules nor allow for idiosyncrasies in their interpretation.
  • Schaeffer, J., van Witteloostuijn, M., & Creemers, A. (2018). Article choice, theory of mind, and memory in children with high-functioning autism and children with specific language impairment. Applied Psycholinguistics, 39(1), 89-115. doi:10.1017/S0142716417000492.


    Previous studies show that young, typically developing (TD) children (age 5) make errors in the choice between a definite and an indefinite article. Suggested explanations for overgeneration of the definite article include failure to distinguish speaker from hearer assumptions, and for overgeneration of the indefinite article failure to draw scalar implicatures, and weak working memory. However, no direct empirical evidence for these accounts is available. In this study, 27 Dutch-speaking children with high-functioning autism, 27 children with SLI, and 27 TD children aged 5–14 were administered a pragmatic article choice test, a nonverbal theory of mind test, and three types of memory tests (phonological memory, verbal, and nonverbal working memory). The results show that the children with high-functioning autism and SLI (a) make similar errors, that is, they overgenerate the indefinite article; (b) are TD-like at theory of mind, but (c) perform significantly more poorly than the TD children on phonological memory and verbal working memory. We propose that weak memory skills prevent the integration of the definiteness scale with the preceding discourse, resulting in the failure to consistently draw the relevant scalar implicature. This in turn yields the occasional erroneous choice of the indefinite article a in definite contexts.

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