Prosodic constraints on children’s use of grammatical morphemes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

It has long been known that children may use a particular grammatical morpheme inconsistently at early stages of acquisition. Although this has often been thought to be evidence of incomplete syntactic representations, there is now a large body of crosslinguistic evidence showing that much of this early within-speaker variability is due to still developing phonological and/or prosodic representations. This article reviews recent research showing how a phonological approach to the emergence of grammatical morphology makes it possible to make crosslinguistic predictions about what will be acquired early and what acquired late. This is known as the Prosodic Licensing Hypothesis, providing a unified framework for understanding the course of morphosyntactic development across languages. The implications are both theoretical and methodological, suggesting that children may know more about the grammar of their language at an earlier age than is often assumed, and that this can only be revealed by taking prosodic phonology into account in designing early tests of syntactic development.

LanguageEnglish
Pages80-95
Number of pages16
JournalFirst Language
Volume39
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019

Fingerprint

phonology
language
evidence
grammar
Morpheme
Language
Prediction
Grammatical Morphology
Licensing
Incomplete
Syntax
Syntactic Development
Prosodic Phonology
Grammar

Keywords

  • determiners
  • grammatical morphemes
  • inflectional morphemes
  • prosodic hierarchy
  • prosodic morphology

Cite this

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Prosodic constraints on children’s use of grammatical morphemes. / Demuth, Katherine.

In: First Language, Vol. 39, No. 1, 01.02.2019, p. 80-95.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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