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

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    Abstract

    On the basis of extensive literature studies Ambridge, Kidd, Rowland & Theakston (JCL, 2015) present five theses on frequency effects on language acquisition: 1) Levels and Kinds Thesis. 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). 2) Age of Acquisition (AoA) Thesis. 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. 3) Prevent Error Thesis. High-frequency forms prevent (or reduce) errors in contexts in which they are the target. 4) Cause Error Thesis. High-frequency forms also cause error in contexts in which a competing, related lower-frequency form is the target. 5) Interaction Thesis. 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 where 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 phonetics/phonology and morphology in the Danish system (Kjærbæk, dePont Christensen & Basbøll, NJL, 2014).In this study we will test the theses in a phonetic/phonological perspective and explore the impact of phonetics on grammar. This we will do in two types of empirical data from children acquiring Danish as their first language:•Naturalistic data. Spontaneous child language input and output from two monolingual children in the age of 1-3 years – and their parents.•Experimental data. Picture based elicitation task with 160 monolingual children between 3-10 years. The test material consists of 48 stimulus items.In the analyses we will use a scale with three degrees of productivity. Productivity is here defined as the ability of the 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. Productivity scale for the Danish plural markers: 1) Fully Productive. ɐ-schwa suffix without phonemic stem change; 2) Semi Productive. ə-schwa and zero suffix without phonemic stem change; 3) Unproductive. Markers with phonemic stem change and markers with the foreign suffixes -s, -a and -i.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date9. Sept 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 9. Sept 2015
    EventInternational Symposium on Monolingual and Bilingual Speech - Chania, Greece
    Duration: 7. Sept 201510. Sept 2015

    Conference

    ConferenceInternational Symposium on Monolingual and Bilingual Speech
    Country/TerritoryGreece
    CityChania
    Period07/09/201510/09/2015

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