Learning words before learning grammar: a case study of passives and unaccusativity in Northern East Cree first language acquisition

Johansson, Sara Jane (2012) Learning words before learning grammar: a case study of passives and unaccusativity in Northern East Cree first language acquisition. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This longitudinal case study of a child learning Northern East Cree (NEC) (Algonquian; polysynthetic) focuses on the development of the passive construction and unaccusativity from 4;06- 5;10. The passive is acquired over three stages: (i) productive use of morphology and reliance on unanalyzed chunks; (ii) active analysis of the passive construction (errors, self-correction, passive-active alternations) and (iii) mastery of passive grammar marked by an increase in complexity. A set of intransitive verbs that can be unaccusative or unergative are also investigated, with a focus on causative alternations, the range of verbs used, and the development of morphological complexity in utterances, using a measure of Mean Length of Utterance by morpheme. There is an overall increase in grammatical and morphological complexity at 5;06, as expected in U-shaped development. These findings do not support nativist hypotheses that the ability to form passives and unaccusatives matures at a given age (Maturation Hypothesis).

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/10746
Item ID: 10746
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 165-193).
Keywords: acquisition; passive; unaccusative; Algonquian; Cree; morphosyntax; longitudinal; polysynthetic
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Linguistics
Date: 2012
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Cree language--Acquisition; Cree language--Study and teaching (Early childhood); Cree language--Passive voice; Cree language--Verb phrase; Cree language--Morphosyntax.

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