Aspects of Argument Structure Acquisition in Inuktitut
This book discusses the first language acquisition of three morphosyntactic mechanisms of transitivity alternation in arctic Quebec Inuktitut. Data derive from naturalistic longitudinal spontaneous speech samples collected over a nine-month period from four Inuit children. Both basic and advanced forms of passive structures are shown to be used productively by Inuktitut-speaking children at an early age relative to English-speaking children, but consistent in age with speakers of non-Indo-European languages reported on in the literature; potential explanations of this difference include frequency of caregiver input and details of language structure. Morphological causatives appear slightly later in the acquisition sequence, and their first instances reflect use of unanalyzed routines. Lexical causatives are present from the earliest ages studied. Evidence of a period of overgeneralization of lexical causatives in one subject at the same time as the morphological causative shows signs of being productively acquired suggests that the seeming overgeneralization may reflect nothing more than as yet unstable use of the morphological causative. Noun incorporation structures are shown to be used productively by Inuktitut-speaking children at an early age relative to Mohawk-speaking children; potential explanations of this difference include details of language structure and relative language use in the environments of the learners. Findings are considered in light of current debates in the literature concerning continuity versus maturation of grammatical structure, and concerning the functional categories available to the child at early stages of acquisition. Data presented argue against late maturation, and suggest that all functional categories may be accessed by the Inuktitut-speaking child early in the acquisition process.
[Language Acquisition and Language Disorders, 13] 1996. xvi, 244 pp.
Publishing status: Available
© John Benjamins Publishing Company
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements | p. xii
Tables | p. xv
Abbreviations | p. xvii
1. Background and Overview | p. 1
2. Methodology | p. 29
3. Acquisition of passives | p. 55
4. Acquisition of causatives | p. 90
5. Acquisition of noun incorporation | p. 158
6. Conclusion | p. 191
Appendix A: Map indicating location of Quaqtaq | p. 230
Appendix B: List of (meta)transcription notations | p. 231
Appendix C: List of codes for verbal utterances | p. 233
Appendix D: Sample of fully coded transcript | p. 234
Index of Languages | p. 241
Index of Authors | p. 242
Index of Subjects | p. 246
“Allen’s book is an impressive survey of children’s acquisition of (certain aspects of) an interesting and complicated language; and it is evident that Allen is a very engaged and careful researcher. The book is well balanced between theoretical discussions on the one hand and analyses on the other hand and analyses of concrete data on the other. Allen constantly keeps two perspectives in mind: to describe and analyze (the acquisition of) an interesting language, and to get greater insight into universal grammar and acquisition theories in the light of new data. A crosslinguistic approach is essential for her. This makes the book highly relevant not only for researchers of Inuit languages, but for general linguistics as well.”
Brigitte Jacobsen, Acta Linguistica Hafniensia, Volume 31
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