The ontology of roots and the emergence of nouns and verbs in Kuikuro
Adult speech and children’s acquisition
Kuikuro, a dialect of the Upper Xingu Carib Language (Southern Amazonia, Brazil), cannot be defined as polycategorial. Instead, we argue that it is a highly agglutinative language in which the postulates of Distributed Morphology are extremely effective for their descriptive and explanatory power: roots are acategorized lexical items from which families of words can be generated in syntax, and not before, through pairing with functional morphemes. Inflection, both nominal and verbal, is the phonological expression of syntactic identities and functions, e.g., Nouns and Verbs as arguments and their heads. A first excursion into the speech production of Kuikuro children aged 14 to 36 months brings new evidence in favor of the hypothesis that Nouns and Verbs emerge step by step in the development of syntactic functional projections, from an early phase of multi-functional and uninflected baby-words – a phenomenon at the heart of the ethnotheory of language acquisition.
- 1.Basic grammatical features
- 2.Kuikuro is not polycategorial
- 2.1From acategorized roots to almost anything
- 3.The emergence of nouns and verbs in children’s speech: A preliminary investigation
- 3.1The speech of children aged 2;0 to 2;8
- 3.1.1The baby-lexicon: The child´s word production
- 3.1.2The emergence of Nouns and Verbs: Data from children’s speech production
- 3.1.3Summary of results
- 4.Some observations on child speech production beyond 2;8
- Final remarks
Abbreviations for interlinear glosses:
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