Primary Language Acquisition

Laura Wagner

in The Oxford Handbook of Tense and Aspect

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195381979
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Primary Language Acquisition

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology
  • Language Acquisition



Children face several critical challenges in acquiring tense and aspect, one of which concerns the variability in linguistic marking, which encompasses a wide range. Nevertheless, children do use tense and aspect morphosyntax from a young age, and by and large, appear to use it correctly. This article discusses primary-language acquisition and examines specific evidence illustrating the nature of children's competence with temporal semantics, beginning with an analysis of an apparent error (an under-extension) in children's early language production and then proceeding to specific evaluations of their knowledge of Aktionsart (lexical aspect), grammatical aspect, and tense. It also examines aspectual under-extensions in children's language production, theoretical approaches to children's temporal under-extensions, past imperfective forms, and discourse functions of grammatical aspect.

Keywords: grammatical aspect; tense; primary-language acquisition; children; language production; temporal semantics; under-extensions; Aktionsart; past imperfective forms

Article.  10626 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology ; Language Acquisition

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