Lexically Specified Patterns in Early Verbal Morphology in Spanish*

  • Virginia C. Mueller Gathercole
  • Eugenia Sebastián
  • Pilar Soto

Abstract

Since the 1960’s, when serious investigation of child language acquisition was spurred on by both the Chomskyan revolution and the work carried out by Roger Brown and his colleagues, one issue that has been investigated extensively has been early grammatical development. This area of development has been of continual interest and investigation because it presents many of the most intractable issues surrounding language acquisition. These issues include the question of the timing and order of development across items and what controls this order; the determination of what constitutes evidence of a productive command on the part of the child; the question of the scope of the child’s categories and rules; and the nature of children’s errors and what they may reveal about the child’s knowledge. All of these issues are, of course, intimately related. Recent research in this area has suggested that, for English-speaking children at least, the earliest steps to grammatical development consist of acquiring piecemeal knowledge, and that children’s productive command of the language is restricted to limited-scope, lexically specified patterns or rules. Children learning inflectional languages, in contrast, are often reported to achieve a productive command of morphological paradigms earlier than English-speaking children, even as early as two years of age. This investigation seeks to contribute to the question of children’s early grammatical knowledge by examining the early use of verb forms in Spanish-speaking children.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virginia C. Mueller Gathercole
    • 1
    • 2
  • Eugenia Sebastián
    • 3
  • Pilar Soto
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Wales BangorUSA
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of Wales BangorBangorCentral African Republic
  3. 3.Universidad Autónoma de MadridUSA

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