BE, DO, and Modal Auxiliaries of 3-Year-Old African American English Speakers Purpose This study examined African American English–speaking children's use of BE, DO, and modal auxiliaries. Method The data were based on language samples obtained from 48 three-year-olds. Analyses examined rates of marking by auxiliary type, auxiliary surface form, succeeding element, and syntactic construction and by a number of child ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2014
BE, DO, and Modal Auxiliaries of 3-Year-Old African American English Speakers
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Brandi L. Newkirk-Turner
    Jackson State University, Jackson, MS
  • Janna B. Oetting
    Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
  • Ida J. Stockman
    Michigan State University, East Lansing
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Brandi L. Newkirk-Turner: brandi.l.newkirk@jsums.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Lizbeth Finestack
    Associate Editor: Lizbeth Finestack×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2014
BE, DO, and Modal Auxiliaries of 3-Year-Old African American English Speakers
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2014, Vol. 57, 1383-1393. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0063
History: Received March 14, 2013 , Revised August 19, 2013 , Accepted November 17, 2013
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2014, Vol. 57, 1383-1393. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0063
History: Received March 14, 2013; Revised August 19, 2013; Accepted November 17, 2013
Web of Science® Times Cited: 5

Purpose This study examined African American English–speaking children's use of BE, DO, and modal auxiliaries.

Method The data were based on language samples obtained from 48 three-year-olds. Analyses examined rates of marking by auxiliary type, auxiliary surface form, succeeding element, and syntactic construction and by a number of child variables.

Results The children produced 3 different types of marking (mainstream overt, nonmainstream overt, zero) for auxiliaries, and the distribution of these markings varied by auxiliary type. The children's nonmainstream dialect densities were related to their marking of BE and DO but not modals. Marking of BE was influenced by its surface form and the succeeding verbal element, and marking of BE and DO was influenced by syntactic construction.

Conclusions Results extend previous studies by showing dialect-specific effects for children's use of auxiliaries and by showing these effects to vary by auxiliary type and children's nonmainstream dialect densities. Some aspects of the children's auxiliary systems (i.e., pattern of marking across auxiliaries and effects of syntactic construction) were also consistent with what has been documented for children who speak other dialects of English. These findings show dialect-specific and dialect-universal aspects of African American English to be present early in children's acquisition of auxiliaries.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by a Dissertation Fellowship from the Louisiana State University Graduate School and a New Century Doctoral Scholars Award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation. The authors thank the Head Start administrative offices for facilitating data collection in Lansing, Michigan, Lucy McClintic, Sheila Kelly, and Judy Towne and their Head Start staff. Gratitude is extended to Sonja L. Pruitt-Lord for providing valuable feedback on a draft of this article.
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