Assessing Child and Adult Grammar

Julie Anne Legate and Charles Yang

in Rich Languages From Poor Inputs

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199590339
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745041 | DOI:
Assessing Child and Adult Grammar

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This chapter discusses the acquisition of the English metrical stress system. It shows that there is now a reasonable body of developmental data on stress acquisition, both longitudinal and cross-sectional, and that the main (early) stages in the metrical system of children can be identified. This allows the phonological theory of stress to be linked with child language acquisition. In a more general framework, linguistic theories often have to decide what constitutes the core system of the grammar — such as basic word orders, default rules, unmarked forms — and what can be, more marginally, relegated to the lexicon. The complex metrical system of English is riddled with exceptions, thanks in part to the extensive borrowing in the history of the language. There are therefore decisions that the child learner needs to make, for the primary linguistic data do not arrive pre-labeled as core or peripheral. In this way, the child's navigation toward the adult grammar might shed light on the choices of linguistic theorizing as well. The chapter also suggests that stress acquisition can be viewed as an instance of parameter setting as the learner makes a set of choices made available by Universal Grammar.

Keywords: language acquisition; language learning; English metrical stress system; stress acquisition

Chapter.  6798 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics

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