Sequence and System in the Acquisition of Tense and Agreement PurposeThe relatedness of tense morphemes in the language of children younger than 3 years of age is a matter of controversy. Generativist accounts predict that the morphemes will be related, whereas usage-based accounts predict the absence of relationships. This study focused on the increasing productivity of the 5 morphemes in ... Article
Article  |   August 01, 2012
Sequence and System in the Acquisition of Tense and Agreement
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Pamela A. Hadley
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Janet K. Holt
    Northern Illinois University, DeKalb
  • Correspondence to Matthew Rispoli, who is now with Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville: mrispoli@illinois.edu
  • Editor: Anne Smith
    Editor: Anne Smith×
  • Associate Editor: Diane Loeb
    Associate Editor: Diane Loeb×
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language
Article   |   August 01, 2012
Sequence and System in the Acquisition of Tense and Agreement
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2012, Vol. 55, 1007-1021. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0272)
History: Received October 2, 2010 , Revised March 15, 2011 , Accepted November 14, 2011
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2012, Vol. 55, 1007-1021. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0272)
History: Received October 2, 2010; Revised March 15, 2011; Accepted November 14, 2011
Web of Science® Times Cited: 23

PurposeThe relatedness of tense morphemes in the language of children younger than 3 years of age is a matter of controversy. Generativist accounts predict that the morphemes will be related, whereas usage-based accounts predict the absence of relationships. This study focused on the increasing productivity of the 5 morphemes in the tense productivity score (copula BE, third-person singular present –3s, past –ed, auxiliary DO, auxiliary BE; Hadley & Short, 2005) and their relationship to one another.

MethodTwenty typically developing children were observed longitudinally from 21 to 33 months of age. One hour of naturalistic caregiver–child interaction sampled every 3 months was analyzed.

ResultsCopula BE was more productive than all other morphemes from age 27 months onward. Auxiliary BE was significantly less productive than –3s,ed, and DO from age 27 months onward. Evaluation of third-person singular tense morphemes at age 33 months revealed that the productivity scores of copula is,3s, and does were all correlated.

ConclusionsThere is sequence and simultaneity in development that no prior framework has fully explained, as well as evidence of cross-morpheme relationships. In this article, the authors interpret these findings as support for the gradual morphosyntactic learning hypothesis (Rispoli & Hadley, 2011; Rispoli, Hadley, & Holt, 2009).

Acknowledgments
The archival database was originally gathered as part of National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R15 DC005374, awarded to the first author. Analyses and dissemination were supported by National Science Foundation Grant BCS-082251, awarded to the first and second authors, and by the Institute for Learning Transfer/ETRA at Northern Illinois University, awarded to the third author. Portions of this article were presented at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL; the 2007 Annual Meeting of the Mid-Western Educational Research Association, St. Louis, MO; and the 2010 Symposium for Research in Child Language Disorders, Madison, WI.
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