|Title:||The Acquisition of Morpho-syntax in Spanish: Implications for current theories of development||Add Dissertation|
|Author:||Javier Aguado-Orea||Update Dissertation|
|Email:||click here to access email|
|Institution:||University of Nottingham, MA Slavonic Studies (Research)|
|Linguistic Subfield(s):||Language Acquisition;|
|Abstract:||The objective of the analyses included in this thesis is to test two different sets of theories about the way children acquire the knowledge required to use verb inflection in Spanish. One of them assumes that children have innate knowledge about grammatical properties that are common to all languages. Some of the authors defending this claim propose that children are fully competent from the beginning of speech (Hoekstra & Hyams, 1998; Wexler, 1998). On the other hand, the other set of theories avoids assuming such initial domain-specific knowledge. Consequently, these theories predict a gradual progression towards the achievement of full competence (Pine, Lieven & Rowland, 1998; Tomasello, 2000a). New longitudinal naturalistic samples of the speech of two children have been collected for the purpose of this study (a boy: 1;10.21 – 2;5.29 years old;
a girl: 2;2.25 - 2;7.15 years old). New methods have also been developed to analyse these samples. They consist of controlled comparisons across the speech of different speakers (i.e. parents and children) or within the speech of the child recorded at different developmental points. The accuracy of children in the provision of finite and non-finite verb forms has also been assessed and used to differentiate between the theories mentioned above. Finally, a computational model of the acquisition of syntax has been used to explore the relation between the pattern of finiteness marking in early child Spanish and the distributional characteristics of Spanish child directed speech. The implications of these results for theories of language development and children's early knowledge of verb inflection are discussed.