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Review of Pre- and Protomorphology:Early Phases of Morphological Development in Nouns and Verbs
Date: 30 Jan 2006 08:04:38 +0000 From: Alexandra Galani Subject: Pre- and Promorphology: Early Phases of Morphological Development in Nouns and Verbs
EDITORS: Voeikova, Maria D.; Dressler, Wolfgang U. TITLE: Pre- and Protomorphology SUBTITLE: Early Phases of Morphological Development in Nouns and Verbs SERIES: LINCOM Studies in Theoretical Linguistics PUBLISHER: Lincom GmbH YEAR: 2002
Alexandra Galani, University of York
The volume is a collection of twelve papers on the acquisition of nominal and verbal morphology (inflectional and derivational) from a language-specific as well as cross-linguistic point of view. The first two chapters report on the acquisition of number and case from a cross- linguistic perspective, whereas the remaining ten discuss patterns in French, Austrian German, Yucatec Maya, Finnish, Russian, Italian, Spanish and Croatian, respectively. The papers present some the results of the ''Crosslinguistic Project on Pre- and Protomorphology in Language Acquisition'' (Dressler, Austrian Academy of Sciences).
Introduction (pp. 3-5) Voeikova and Dressler give a short but nonetheless clear enough summary of the contents of the present volume. The papers address the question of how different morphological patterns -- in morphological rich languages which may be closely related or typologically different -- are acquired in similar ways. They explain that the ''Crosslinguistic Project on Pre- and Protomorphology'' distinguishes two phases in acquisition: in the premorphological phase only few extragrammatical morphological operations occur and rote- learnt forms are used. The system becomes dysfunctional, though, when syntactic patterns which require morphological marking of categories emerge. On the other hand and during the protomorphological phase of language acquisition, the morphological system begins to develop and children start to construct/acquire morphological patterns.
Stephany, Ursula Early development of grammatical number -- a typological perspective (pp. 7-23) Stephany discusses the development of grammatical number in the early developmental stage (0;11-4;08) from a typological perspective; Turkish, Finnish, Georgian, Hebrew, Lithuanian, Russian, Greek, Northern and Austrian German, Italian, French and Yucatec Maya. She takes in to consideration studies based on one child contra other works in the literature which have been conducted on many children for shorter periods of time. She attempts to address the following questions: do the differences between agglutinating and fusional languages influence the early development of nominal number marking? What are the differences/similarities between the developments of nominal marking in languages where it is marked periphrastically versus those in which it is marked synthetically? Finally, is the development of grammatical number influenced by the obligatory versus facultative marking of nominal number? Stephany reports that nominal number marking in agglutinating versus fusional languages as well as its synthetic versus analytic means of marking is not significantly different. She notes, though, that transparent marking in languages such as Turkish and French is mastered more easily and becomes productive more quickly than non-transparent one in languages such as Greek, Lithuanian or Russian.
Stephany addresses the questions in a straightforward and comprehensible way. The reader knows exactly which questions around the development of grammatical number interest the author. The author provides useful tables which summarise the findings. The discussion of the development of number marking in agglutinating versus fusional languages is detailed and clear. This section is the lengthiest and the most interesting one. I believe that the paper could have benefited, if a brief summary of how the morphological system of nominal marking in each language works in general before emerging on to the patterns employed by children, as it is not always clear what the case is.
Voeikova, Marina The acquisition of case in typologically different languages (pp. 25-44) Voeikova discusses the acquisition of the case systems in Croatian, Finnish, German, Greek, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Russian and Turkish. She focuses around the question of whether children -who acquire typologically different languages- show differences in the process of mastering case distinctions and examines if this difference can be explained in terms of the structure of each language. She concludes that there are language-specific features that play role in the acquisition of case systems. These may be syntactic, morphological or phonological. Syntactic features play a significant role in languages with periphrastic case marking, whereas in morphologically rich languages children develop a system which is not always connected to a syntactic development. On the other hand, in cases which involve the development of declension classes based on phonological patterns, children acquire case marking in an easier way. She clearly shows that when inflectional classes are not predicted overtly based on the phonological forms, children create a simplified system during the transition from the premorphological to the protomorphological stage in agglutinating languages in many cases.
This is an interesting paper on the acquisition of case from a typological point of view. The discussion is clear and the paper is easy to follow. Voeikova first gives the main properties and characteristics of each language discussed and then moves on to the patterns noticed in child language acquisition.
Kilani-Schoch, Marianne and Dressler, Wolfgang D. The emergence of inflectional paradigms in two French corpora: an illustration of general problems of pre- and protomorphology (pp. 45- 59) Kilani-Schoch and Dressler argue that the emergence and development of morphological paradigms is an important level for the construction of morphological patterns by children. They examine the emergence of the first verb paradigms in two French children and propose that the morphological development is completed in three phases; pre-, proto- and modularised morphology. This consequently means that there is a difference between the emergence, the acquisition (Berman 1986) (during the pre-morphological stage with no grammatical morphology) and the mastery (Radford 1990) of morphological forms (protomorphological stage). In the premorphological phase, morphological operations are extragrammatical or role-learnt, whereas in the protomorphological phase, the system begins to develop, first limited to some lemmas and then increasing to new mini-paradigms.
The chapter is theoretical in nature. The goals and the questions are well-presented. Exemplification of each point (both theoretical and empirical) is also good. The paper would have benefited, though, if the discussion of the findings has been further expanded, especially the section on morphosemantics. An explanation on the characteristics of macroclass and microclass would have also been useful.
Klampher, Sabine and Korecky-Kröll, Katharina Nouns and verbs at the transition from pre- to protomorphology: a longitudinal case study on Austrian German (pp. 61-73) The authors compare the development of nominal and verbal morphology of an Austrian child focussing on the transition from pre- to protomorphology. They find that asynchrony is observed in the acquisition of nominal versus verbal morphology which is also parallel with the developmental sequences in the lexical development.
This is a well-written paper. The purposes of the paper are clearly defined in the first section. There is a good introduction to the data they are using and the results are presented in a clear, simple and coherent fashion. The tables, figures and examples provided also give a complete picture of the issues involved and the results reached. The sections are of equal length.
Pfeiler, Barbara Noun and verb acquisition in Yucatec Maya (pp. 75-82) The purpose of this paper is to determine whether verbs are learnt later than nouns. The author attempts to present some findings around the acquisition of verbal and nominal morphology in Yucatec Maya. She concludes that the child first acquires deictic and topicalisation suffixes and then pluralisation ones with animate nouns and later possessive prefixes. On the other hand, the development of verb inflection starts at the age of 2;0. Nouns are acquired first and verbs are productively used only later on.
This is the shortest chapter in the volume. It is not clear whether it presents the findings of previous studies or a new analysis, and it appears to raise a lot more questions that what it actually addresses. It summarises the patterns observed in different Maya languages rather than what these results mean. The emphasis is put on verbs and not nouns. The discussion around nouns is too brief and is summarised to the extent where details which would provide crucial information to the reader are omitted. The author notes that ''verbs are learnt early, there is no prior noun explosion registered'' (p.77) but concludes that ''early vocabulary is characterised by nouns and only later by verbs'' (p.80). It is not clear, consequently, what the case is in Yucatec Maya. The full form of MLU could have been provided.
Laalo, Klaus Acquisition of case in Finnish: a preliminary overview (pp. 83-103) Laalo discusses the acquisition of case in Finnish. He observes that Finnish children use nouns in only one form (nominative singular) in the very early stages. The first inflectional forms are the genitive and the accusative ones which also signal the beginning of the protomorphological phase. Local case suffixes are first used with deictic adverbs and gradually develop. Finally, plural case suffixes are first observed with partitive and nominative.
The paper gives a short summary of the morphological case system in Finnish adult language and offers rich illustrations of each point before turning on to the acquisition of the system by children. Each case is discussed and explained in detail and exemplified with more than one example. The conclusion is clear and concise.
Savickienė, Ineta The emergence of case distinctions in Lithuanian (pp. 105-114) The chapter by Savickienė discusses the emergence of case patterns in Lithuanian in a simple and straightforward way. She observes that the morphological forms are acquired early, whereas the meaning of cases gradually. Although the discussion is interesting, it would have been nice to see clearly how these patterns relate to theoretical problems as far as language acquisition is concerned.
Voeikova, Maria and Gagarina, Natalia MLU, first lexicon and the early stages in the acquisition of case forms by two Russian children (pp. 115-131) In the present chapter, the acquisition of nominal case forms by Russian children is examined. The authors conclude that syntax and morphology, on one hand, as well as morphology and lexicon, on the other, are interdependent with language acquisition. They find that there is a correspondence between MLU and PBF. Noun production occurs before the onset of verb use.
The chapter has a theoretical scope. It is an interesting paper which presents the data in a clear way, guides us through the processes followed in the analysis of the data and summarises the main points. It is the first paper in which cross-referencing is made and the reader can actually see how it relates to other works in the volume as well works which contribute to the project. Examples are well-presented (examples with glosses and translations).
De Marco, Anna The development of diminutives in Italian: input and acquisition (pp. 133-151) De Marco observes that the acquisition of diminutives occurs during the early stages of the development. The pragmatic meaning emerges sooner than the semantic one. When both diminutives and simplicia are used in the same speech event, a pragmatic use of the diminunitivised word is highlighted. She also observes a parallelism between the production of diminutives in the child's and mother's speech.
Marrero, Victoria, Albalá, Maria José and Moreno, Ignacio Use of diminutives by children and adults in Spanish: a preliminary analysis (pp. 153-162) This is a short paper which presents the results of the quantitative analysis concerning the use of diminutives in children and adult speech. The authors guides the reader through the methodology followed and summarise the results, although it would have been interesting and far more comprehensible if the results had been discussed in detail. They attempt to highlight some theoretical implications but they only devote the last couple of paragraphs to them. This does not permit the discussion to be either clear or complete and consequently convincing.
Aguirre, Carmen The acquisition of tense and aspect morphology: a key for semantic interpretation (pp. 163-176) Aguirre offers an interesting approach to the acquisition of tense and aspect morphology brining data from Spanish. She adopts the prototype theory to interpret the acquisition of tense and aspect. She further suggests that the key to the understanding of meaning of aspect and tense as well as to the establishment of their functional positions lies on verbal morphology. She observes that when children enter the protomorphological stage in verb morphology, agreement and tense marking emerge in Spanish.
The present paper offers an interesting discussion on the acquisition of tense and aspect by presenting different theoretical approaches and frameworks. The main points of each theory are briefly but concisely presented, whereas Aguirre provides a comprehensive background of tense and aspect morphology in Spanish. It is a nicely laid out paper which raises interesting questions and is easy to read.
Jelaska, Zrinka, Kovačević, Melita and Anđel, Maja Morphology and semantics: the basics of Croatian case (pp. 177-189) The paper discusses the morphology and the semantics of case in Croatian. They observe that there is a parallel between the characteristics of the words shared by both the input language and the child's language. Moreover, the number of tokens in child as well as input languages concentrates around the prototypical members.
This works presents some interesting results which nevertheless should be incorporated within a wider theoretical context.
The volume presents some interesting findings on child language acquisition. There are papers which clearly report on findings, whereas others which discuss the theoretical implications of the data and the results. The length of the papers varies which may also affect their value.
Leaving aside the merit of the contributions, it is not clear how and if each paper is linked to the rest within the volume. It is not clear how the book is organised or why it is organised in this way. (The chapters are not organised in alphabetical order. The acquisition of case is discussed in chapters 2, 6, 7, 8, 12.) It would have been nice to see cross-referencing within the contributions, especially once there are papers which examine the same morphological patterns in different language sets, eg. the acquisition of case. This creates a feeling of incompleteness to the reader and does not make the volume as user- friendly as it might have been expected to. The main problem is that it is not clear how the twelve papers all blend together. Based on the way they are arranged, it could be taken that they are individual works which have not been developed under the light of the ''Crosslinguistic project of Pre- and Protomorphology''. These issues could have been avoided, if the editors had explained the order in which contributions appear.
The differences in the layout, omissions and typos - which are summarised in what follows - further suggest that the volume does not have a unified character.
Stephany: The header is wrong. Instead of ''Early development of grammatical number -- a typological perspective'', it appears as ''The acquisition of case in typologically different languages'', the title of the next contributions.
Voeikova: Footnote (1) corresponds to two separate parts in the text. In the first instance, the number of the footnote comes before the fullstop, whereas in the second one after the fullstop.
Kilani-Schoch and Dressler: - All footnote numbers come before the fullstop in this paper, despite the fact that their numbering precedes punctuation marks both in general and throughout this book. - p.45/55: parts of the paragraphs are not fully justified, as the remaining of the text. - p.56: A reference is missing for sign-based morphology.
Klampher and Korecky—Kröll - p.61: the number of sections in this chapter begins with (0) and not (1) as in the previous papers. - p.62: Problems with the use of punctuation mark after number of footnote (3) in the text. - p.65: Unjustified paragraph.
Pfeiler: - p.75: not all paragraphs are fully justified. - p.80/81: problems with the use of punctuation marks. - p.81: In the references, Peters (1996) appears before Peters (1983). Also page numbers appear before the publishers' information, contra the formatting following in the remaining papers.
Laalo: - p.83: paragraph is not fully justified. - p.83: ''plural suffix --t'': this should have been in italics. - References section: books do not appear in italics. In edited works, editors are not cited following the conventional pattern. (Ed.) does not appear in brackets after the names of the editors.
Savickienė: - The layout of this paper is completely different to the one followed in the remaining of the book as far as the numbering and the headers of the sections as well as the line breaking are concerned (headers are not separated from the body of the sections, they proceed it on the same line. Empty lines separate the paragraphs.). - An abstract is provided with this paper. Not all papers include one. - Age is given in boldface. This is not the case everywhere else. - References section: Not all book titles appear in italics. In edited works, the names of editors appear after the book title and before the publishers' information (eg. Dressler and Karpf 1995).
Voeikova and Gagarina: - In this paper, sections are not numbered. - Kiebzak appears as (1999) in the text, whereas as (2000) in the references section. - p.117: ''poexal'' should have been given in italics. - p.118: ''consists in'' instead of ''consists of''. - p.119: Dressler et al. (1995-1996) in text but Dressler et al. (1996) in references. - p.119: footnote number appears before punctuation mark. - p. 121: Krasil'nikova (1993) in text but Krasil'nikova (1990) in references.
De Marco: - One page abstract is given in this case. - The numbering of figures appears on top of the figures which is not common practise in the rest of the papers, as for instance in Voeikova and Gagarina's. - In the references section, page number may be given after the booktitle and before the publishers' information or at the very end. - References section: ''and'' is missing from De Marco, A., L. Tonelli.
Marrero, Albalá, Moreno: - Sections are not numbered. - Tables and figures are not numbered. - pp.159-160: Unjustified paragraphs.
Aguirre: - p.166: When examples are given within the text, it is common practise they appear in italics. They do not, though, throughout the present work (p.166 versus p.167). - p.166: ''… to be a present perfect form1.'': (1) is probably a typo. - p.169: footnote number appears before the punctuation mark. - p.172, footnote (3): Aguirre 2002, the date should have been in brackets.
Jelaska, Kovačević and Anđel: - An abstract is included in this chapter. - The numbering of sections begins with (0) and not (1). - p.189: References are given on a separate page. This practice is not followed throughout the rest of the volume.
Berman, R. (1986). A step-by-step model of language acqusition. In I. Levin (Ed.) Stage and structure. Norwood: Ablex. pp. 191-219.
Dressler, W. U. and A. Karpf. (1995). The theoretical relevance of pre- and protomorphology in language acquisition. In G. Booij and J. van Marle (Eds.) Yearbook of morphology 1994. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 99-122.
Peters, A. N. (1983). The units of language acquisition. New York: Cambridge University Press.
_____. (1996). Strategies in the acquisition of syntax. In P. Fletcher and B. MacWhinney (Eds.) The handbook of child language. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. pp. 462-482.
Radford, A. (1990). Syntactic theory and the acquisition of English syntax. Oxford: Blackwell.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Alexandra Galani is a member of the Department of Language and Linguistic Science at the University of York (England). She has been working on the morphosyntax of tense and aspect in Modern Greek within Distributed Morphology. Her main research interests are: syntax/morphology interface, morphology/phonology interface, allomorphy, suppletion, the lexicon and the acquisition of morphology.