Testing hypotheses on frequency effects in first language acquisition: noun plural inflection in Danish children

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Abstrakt

On the basis of extensive literature studies Ambridge, Kidd, Rowland & Theakston (2015) present five theses on frequency effects on language acquisition: i) the Levels and Kinds Thesis argues that frequency effects exist at all levels and are of many different kinds (e.g. type and token frequency effects as well as absolute and relative frequency effects); ii) the Age of Acquisition Thesis argues that all other things being equal, frequent forms will be acquired before less frequent forms. Since all other things are not equal, this claim does not entail a one-to-one relationship between frequency and age of acquisition; iii) the Prevent Error Thesis argues that high-frequency forms prevent (or reduce) errors in contexts in which they are the target; iv) the Cause Error Thesis argues that high-frequency forms also cause errors in contexts in which a competing, related lower-frequency form is the target; and v) the Interaction Thesis argues that frequency effects will interact with other effects. The acquisition of the Danish noun plural system is particularly interesting in this regard. The reason is that whereas English is characterized by having one default inflectional marker for a grammatical category (e.g. the plural suffix -s) and a minor number of exceptions to this default rule, Danish has several competing inflectional markers. Furthermore, there are important interactions between phonology and morphology in the Danish system (Kjærbæk, dePont Christensen & Basbøll, 2014). In this study we will test the theses in a phonological perspective and explore the impact of phonetics on grammar. This we will do in three types of empirical data from children acquiring Danish as their first language: i) Naturalistic data consisting of spontaneous child language input and output from six children between the ages of 0;10-3;11 – and their parents; ii) Semi-naturalistic data from structured interviews with 80 children between the ages of 3-9 years; iii) Experimental data from a picture based elicitation task with 160 children between the ages of 3-10 years. We present a scale with three degrees of transparency of the plural stem and of the plural suffix as well as a scale with six degrees of transparency of the Danish plural markers. We furthermore present a scale with three degrees of productivity. Productivity is here defined as the ability of an inflectional marker to occur on new words. For the plural system this means the ability to add the plural marker (stem change + suffix) to a new noun in order to form a new plural noun. We analyze the relation between acquisition rate and degree of transparency as well as degree of productivity.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TitelProceedings of the International Symposium on Monolingual and Bilingual Speech
RedaktørerElena Babatsouli, David Ingram
ForlagInstitute of Monolingual and Bilingual Speech
Publikationsdato31. dec. 2015
Sider168-181
ISBN (Elektronisk)978-618-82351-0-6
StatusUdgivet - 31. dec. 2015
BegivenhedInternational Symposium on Monolingual and Bilingual Speech - Chania, Grækenland
Varighed: 7. sep. 201510. sep. 2015

Konference

KonferenceInternational Symposium on Monolingual and Bilingual Speech
LandGrækenland
ByChania
Periode07/09/201510/09/2015

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