The emergence of intransitive verb inflection in Northern East Cree : a case study

Terry, Kevin (2010) The emergence of intransitive verb inflection in Northern East Cree : a case study. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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In this thesis, I offer a preliminary investigation into the emergence of intransitive verb inflectional morphology in Northern East (NE) Cree. This investigation is based on a longitudinal case study of one child learning NE Cree, from the age of 2;01.12 to 3;08.24. I also offer preliminary observations on NE Cree caretaker speech. The NE Cree caretaker uses a high proportion of questions and commands/requests, engages the child as a conversational partner, practices several language socialization routines and uses a special child form vocabulary. This case study reveals that the child most frequently attempts intransitive verbs, as opposed to transitive verbs. With regard to intransitive verbs, animate intransitive verbs are more frequently attempted than inanimate intransitive verbs. By order of frequency, the child attempts animate intransitive in the independent indicative neutral, imperative (neutral) and conjunct indicative neutral paradigms. Inanimate intransitive verbs are attempted in the independent indicative neutral and conjunct indicative neutral. Two developmental stages are identified in the child's productions. Initially, the child produces verbs without performing any word-internal morphological analysis. The storage and production of these amalgams is guided by perceptual salience and production constraints. The phonological template of the child's amalgams at a given age determines what morphological markers are produced (i.e. prefixes vs. suffixes). The child then proceeds to a stage where there is evidence of preliminary morphological analysis, where affixes are segmented from verb stems. This stage is characterized by the addition of inflection to previously uninflected (child vocabulary) forms and the expansion of the child's phonological abilities to a point where person prefixes are more regularly produced. These observations carry an important theoretical implication, as they suggest that children perform abstract analyses on linguistic representations rather than relying solely on more concrete analyses driven by considerations of frequency or salience.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 8979
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 158-172).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Linguistics
Date: 2010
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Cree language--Inflection; Cree language--Verb; Grammar, Comparative and general--Inflection

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