Acquisition at the prosody-morphology interface

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Researchers have long noted that a given child will variably produce a given morpheme. This has been typically attributed to impoverished syntactic or semantic representations. This paper reviews a variety of evidence from several languages showing that much of this early variability is due to constraints on children's early prosodic representations. In accord with Gerken's (1996) experimental findings, the authors show that 2-year-olds, in spontaneous speech, are more likely to produce certain grammatical morphemes in prosodically licensed (unmarked) contexts, where determiners can be prosodified as part of a disyllabic (metrical) foot, and 3rd person singular morphemes can be prosodified as a simple coda consonant. These findings suggest that children may have earlier grammatical competence than often assumed. If so, this raises concerns about theories of syntactic acquisition, as well as for the nature of the experimental design.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2nd Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA)
EditorsAlyona Belikova, Luisa Meroni, Mari Umeda
Place of PublicationSomerville, MA
PublisherCascadilla Proceedings Project
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781574734195
Publication statusPublished - 2007
EventGenerative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (2nd : 2006) - Montreal
Duration: 17 Aug 200619 Aug 2006


ConferenceGenerative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (2nd : 2006)


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