The early stages of verb acquisition in German, Spanish and English
This article provides a preliminary report on how children acquire verb paradigms, proposing a set of verb stages. The stages are: 1. Holophrases: the first action words appear; 2. Early Word Combinations: actions words combine to form semantic relations; 3. Early Verbal Combinations: verbs become obligatory, marked by an increase in verb use, and a later increase in the number of verb types; 4. Early Paradigms acquisition of inflected forms of individual verb types. A method is presented that places individual children into these stages. The method uses 50 intelligible utterances and measures the frequency of verb types, verb forms, and verbal syntactic types, i.e. word combinations that contain a verb. The method is applied to data from Spanish children with language delay, one typically developing German child, and two typically developing children acquiring English. The analyses support the stages, and show there is a milestone of verb acquisition when verbal syntactic types increase to over 50% of the child’s syntactic types. It is also shown that early verb acquisition is marked by the acquisition of verb types, followed by the gradual addition of verb forms (and thus paradigms) over an extended period of time.
KeywordsLanguage Delay Action Word Sound File Word Combination Grammatical Development
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