NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ869128
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Dec
Pages: 22
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-1092-4388
The Acquisition of Auxiliary Syntax: A Longitudinal Elicitation Study. Part 1: Auxiliary BE
Theakston, Anna L.; Rowland, Caroline F.
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, v52 n6 p1449-1470 Dec 2009
Purpose: The question of how and when English-speaking children acquire auxiliaries is the subject of extensive debate. Some researchers posit the existence of innately given Universal Grammar principles to guide acquisition, although some aspects of the auxiliary system must be learned from the input. Others suggest that auxiliaries can be learned without Universal Grammar, citing evidence of piecemeal learning in their support. This study represents a unique attempt to trace the development of auxiliary syntax by using a longitudinal elicitation methodology. Method: Twelve English-speaking children participated in 3 tasks designed to elicit auxiliary BE in declaratives and yes/no and "wh"-questions. They completed each task 6 times in total between the ages of 2;10 (years;months) and 3;6. Results: The children's levels of correct use of 2 forms of BE ("is", "are") differed according to auxiliary form and sentence structure, and these relations changed over development. An analysis of the children's errors also revealed complex interactions between these factors. Conclusion: These data are problematic for existing accounts of auxiliary acquisition and highlight the need for researchers working within both generativist and constructivist frameworks to develop more detailed theories of acquisition that directly predict the pattern of acquisition observed. [For Part II, see EJ869129.]
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). 10801 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852. Tel: 800-638-8255; Fax: 301-571-0457; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A