The acquisition of Sesotho nominal agreement

Katherine Demuth, Sara Weschler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The acquisition of Bantu noun class prefixes has long been an issue of theoretical interest, due in part to the large number of gender classes. In contrast, the acquisition of Bantu nominal agreement has received little attention. Given findings from other languages, one might expect the phonologically transparent system of Bantu agreement to be mastered early and easily. However, the recent discovery that Sotho languages permit null prefixes under certain grammatical conditions raises the possibility that learning nominal agreement might be more challenging than originally thought. The goal of this study was therefore to assess Sesotho-speaking 2-3-year-olds' acquisition of nominal agreement as a function of full versus reduced noun class prefixes. Although the children exhibited early phonological underspecification, they otherwise represented nominal agreement with little problem, whether the noun class prefix was produced or not. The implications for learnability, and the development of lexical representations more generally, are discussed.

LanguageEnglish
Pages67-88
Number of pages22
JournalMorphology
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012

Fingerprint

Prefix
Sesotho
Noun Class
Language
Lexical Representation
Underspecification
Learnability

Cite this

Demuth, Katherine ; Weschler, Sara. / The acquisition of Sesotho nominal agreement. In: Morphology. 2012 ; Vol. 22, No. 1. pp. 67-88.
@article{d7d47f41a2ed4863a7334b03ef95f436,
title = "The acquisition of Sesotho nominal agreement",
abstract = "The acquisition of Bantu noun class prefixes has long been an issue of theoretical interest, due in part to the large number of gender classes. In contrast, the acquisition of Bantu nominal agreement has received little attention. Given findings from other languages, one might expect the phonologically transparent system of Bantu agreement to be mastered early and easily. However, the recent discovery that Sotho languages permit null prefixes under certain grammatical conditions raises the possibility that learning nominal agreement might be more challenging than originally thought. The goal of this study was therefore to assess Sesotho-speaking 2-3-year-olds' acquisition of nominal agreement as a function of full versus reduced noun class prefixes. Although the children exhibited early phonological underspecification, they otherwise represented nominal agreement with little problem, whether the noun class prefix was produced or not. The implications for learnability, and the development of lexical representations more generally, are discussed.",
author = "Katherine Demuth and Sara Weschler",
year = "2012",
month = "2",
doi = "10.1007/s11525-011-9192-7",
language = "English",
volume = "22",
pages = "67--88",
journal = "Morphology",
issn = "1871-5621",
publisher = "Springer, Springer Nature",
number = "1",

}

The acquisition of Sesotho nominal agreement. / Demuth, Katherine; Weschler, Sara.

In: Morphology, Vol. 22, No. 1, 02.2012, p. 67-88.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - The acquisition of Sesotho nominal agreement

AU - Demuth, Katherine

AU - Weschler, Sara

PY - 2012/2

Y1 - 2012/2

N2 - The acquisition of Bantu noun class prefixes has long been an issue of theoretical interest, due in part to the large number of gender classes. In contrast, the acquisition of Bantu nominal agreement has received little attention. Given findings from other languages, one might expect the phonologically transparent system of Bantu agreement to be mastered early and easily. However, the recent discovery that Sotho languages permit null prefixes under certain grammatical conditions raises the possibility that learning nominal agreement might be more challenging than originally thought. The goal of this study was therefore to assess Sesotho-speaking 2-3-year-olds' acquisition of nominal agreement as a function of full versus reduced noun class prefixes. Although the children exhibited early phonological underspecification, they otherwise represented nominal agreement with little problem, whether the noun class prefix was produced or not. The implications for learnability, and the development of lexical representations more generally, are discussed.

AB - The acquisition of Bantu noun class prefixes has long been an issue of theoretical interest, due in part to the large number of gender classes. In contrast, the acquisition of Bantu nominal agreement has received little attention. Given findings from other languages, one might expect the phonologically transparent system of Bantu agreement to be mastered early and easily. However, the recent discovery that Sotho languages permit null prefixes under certain grammatical conditions raises the possibility that learning nominal agreement might be more challenging than originally thought. The goal of this study was therefore to assess Sesotho-speaking 2-3-year-olds' acquisition of nominal agreement as a function of full versus reduced noun class prefixes. Although the children exhibited early phonological underspecification, they otherwise represented nominal agreement with little problem, whether the noun class prefix was produced or not. The implications for learnability, and the development of lexical representations more generally, are discussed.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84858441494&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/s11525-011-9192-7

DO - 10.1007/s11525-011-9192-7

M3 - Article

VL - 22

SP - 67

EP - 88

JO - Morphology

T2 - Morphology

JF - Morphology

SN - 1871-5621

IS - 1

ER -