From: Karen Miller <klm26calvin.edu>
Subject: Variable Input and the Acquisition of Plurality in Two Varieties of Spanish
Institution: Michigan State University
Program: Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007
Author: Karen Lynn Miller
Dissertation Title: Variable Input and the Acquisition of Plurality in Two
Varieties of Spanish
Dissertation URL: http://www.calvin.edu/~klm26/
Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition
Subject Language(s): Spanish (spa)
This dissertation presents a series of production and comprehension
experiments designed to test how variable and ambiguous input affects the
acquisition of grammatical morphology in children. Acquisition of plural
morphology was examined in two varieties of Spanish, one where the plural
morpheme is sometimes omitted in adult speech (due to syllable-final /s/
lenition - Chilean Spanish) and the other where the plural morpheme is
consistently produced by adult speakers (Mexico City Spanish). The results
show that clear differences exist in the way that children acquire
grammatical morphology that is consistently produced in the input vs.
grammatical morphology that is variable and ambiguous in the input. That
is, in production, children exposed to consistent input produce the plural
morpheme consistently in their own speech, while children exposed to
variable input are variable in their own production. In comprehension, the
results show that children exposed to consistent input associate the plural
morpheme to an interpretation of 'more than one' by at least 4 years of
age, while children exposed to variable and ambiguous input are delayed in
their comprehension of plural morphology. Specifically, these children do
not assign an interpretation of 'more than one' to the plural morpheme
until approximately 7 years of age. The results of this dissertation
strongly suggest that variable and ambiguous input delays the acquisition
of grammatical morphology that is affected by that variability.
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