|dc.description.abstract||Direct object clitics are pronouns that are widely preferred in the languages they exist and like all pronouns, are used to refer to something already present in the context. What is special about clitics, among other things, is that they appear pre-verbally, that is, not in the place where their referent appeared in the first place (the object position).
When it comes to the acquisition of clitics, we know that children produce clitics in the appropriate positions, so there is no sign of misplacement but in many languages, young children omit the clitic a great deal in production, even when it is required in the adult language. One of the most striking aspects of this phenomenon, however, is that it does not appear to be uniform cross-linguistically. Studies in typical development show that Italian, French, and Catalan speaking children omit clitics very often, whereas Spanish, Greek and Romanian speaking children do not.
At the same time, children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) seem to pattern (according to their language) with the typical developing once, in the sense that French and Italian kids show high clitic omission among others in contrast to children speaking Spanish. Interestingly, clitic omission has been used as a diagnostic for SLI in Greek-speaking children, irrespective of existing studies of spontaneous speech stating the opposite.
The results of the elicitation task, the first experimental test of clitic omission in Greek SLI, show ceiling performance in clitic production and gives support to theories in which the impairment lies in the computational system rather than in a phonological deficit.||