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ERIC Number: EJ876407
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 35
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1543-4303
Assessing Linguistic Competence: Verbal Inflection in Child Tamil
Lakshmanan, Usha
Language Assessment Quarterly, v3 n2 p171-205 2006
Within child language acquisition research, there has been a fair amount of controversy regarding children's knowledge of the grammatical properties associated with verbal inflection (e.g., tense, agreement, and aspect). Some researchers have proposed that the child's early grammar is fundamentally different from the adult grammar, whereas others have argued that the child possesses the grammatical categories and features that characterize adult grammar but that these are not immediately discernible from the child's speech production. Much of this research has focused on English and other European languages. There has been relatively little research on this issue in relation to Dravidian languages such as Tamil, which have an underlyingly agglutinative structure and complex morphonemics, including complex phonological processes of deletion and assimilation, which make the underlying grammatical categories covert. The spoken Tamil that the child is exposed to do not provide the child with the direct mapping to the underlying categories as, for example, the formal variety does to a great extent. This article presents a study of the development of verbal inflection, specifically that of tense and agreement, in the natural speech data gathered from 2 children acquiring Tamil. The results of initial analyses of the Tamil children's verb forms are first presented, which, on the face of it, support the position that prior to the age of 24 months, children's knowledge of verbal inflection is fundamentally different from an adult. However, alternative analyses of the data reveal that Tamil children, prior to the age of 24 months, may indeed possess knowledge of grammatical categories and the features that characterize adult grammar, although this is not immediately apparent from children's surface production. The article concludes with a consideration of the strong continuity hypothesis and the potential contribution of cross-linguistic research involving Tamil-type languages to an understanding of children's knowledge of verbal inflection in early grammar. (Contains 20 footnotes and 4 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A