ERIC Number: ED196303
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1978-Aug
Reference Count: N/A
Observations on the Acquisition of Definiteness and Indefiniteness. Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, Number 15.
Dunlea, Anne D.
This study documents the emerging ability of children to use demonstrative expressions and definite and indefinite articles in order to establish a clear reference for the hearer in a natural discourse situation. The analysis is based primarily on transcripts of twins recorded over a period of nine months when they were 33 to 42 months old. Additional data are drawn from conversations of three other children interacting with siblings aged 3 years to 5 years 4 months. Each transcript was coded and analyzed for errors and omissions. It was found that children rarely made errors in using the determiners; the errors occurred in omitting them. The results of the analyses show a clear, four-stage progression in the acquisition of determiners. It appears that the stages in the acquisition of definiteness and indefiniteness are marked by three characteristics: (1) indefinite articles are used throughout the data; (2) expressions which would require demonstrative determiners and definite articles in adult language are absent in the first stage of child language; and (3) several potential uses of the definite articles are unexploited in the children's language. A question remaining to be considered is that concerning strategies inherent in article usage. (AMH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Stanford Univ., CA. Dept. of Linguistics.