The emergence of grammaticality in French : evidence from bound verbal morphology and protomorphological fillers

Abstract : Children learning languages like English, French, Italian and Spanish, are reported to start producing verbs in single forms. Only later the occurrence of first formal contrasts, consisting of at least two phonomorphologically relevant (PMR) forms for the same verb type is noted (e.g., Tomasello, 1992; Gathercole et al 1999).
This paper tries to understand whether single-form verbal morphology and the first PMR formal variations are related to the verb form profiles produced in child-directed speech (CDS). Preliminary results indicate that the great majority of verb types in CDS occur in one form only, something on which the first single-form morphology period could be based. They also point out that children's first PMR variations occur more in verbs that mothers produce in more than one form than in verbs occurring in one form only. This kind of relation between acquisitional and CDS data suggests a construction process based on analysis of both general (dominance of single-form verbal morphology) and specific (morphological variation of certain verb types) characteristics of the input.
Moreover it argues that the emergence of formal contrasts in children\'s production of verbs is related to the beginnings of a grammatically-oriented reorganization where formal differences start to be part of children\'s ünderstanding\" of words.
To test this hypothesis we will also perform developmental analyses of the production of fillers (e.g., Peters & Menn, 1993) as a means to check whether other signs of this incipient reorganization appear at around the same period. Would the emergence of PMR variation on verb types co-occur with the appearance of protomorphological characteristics of fillers as, for example, their differential production according to the grammatical category of the word they precede (Veneziano & Sinclair 2000)?
The paper analyzes longitudinal data of four French-speaking mother-child dyads, videorecorded in their home environment at two weeks intervals between the ages of 15 and 30 months. The data are transcribed according to the CHILDES format and transcriptions are linked to the videorecordings using CLAN software. Programs for the analyses of children\'s and caregivers\' productions have been specifically developed for the purposes of this study. Results will be discussed in relation to the hypotheses presented above and within a constructivist approach to early language acquisition.
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Conference papers
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Submitted on : Monday, September 18, 2006 - 3:30:24 PM
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Edy Veneziano, Christophe Parisse. The emergence of grammaticality in French : evidence from bound verbal morphology and protomorphological fillers. X IASCL (Berlin), 2005. ⟨halshs-00095931⟩

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