a1 Brown University and University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
Researchers have long noted that children's grammatical morphemes are variably produced, raising questions about when and how grammatical competence is acquired. This study examined the spontaneous production of determiners by two French-speaking children aged 1 ; 5–2 ; 5. It found that determiners were produced earlier with monosyllabic words, and later with disyllabic and trisyllabic words. This suggests that French-speaking children's early determiners are prosodically licensed as part of a binary foot, with determiners appearing more consistently only once prosodic representations become more complex. This study therefore provides support for the notion that grammatical morphemes first appear in prosodically licensed contexts, suggesting that some of the early variability in morphological production is systematic and predictable.
(Received March 03 2006)
(Revised December 04 2006)
[*] Funding for this research was supported in part by NIMH Grant #R01MH60922 awarded to the first author, and by the Arts & Science Advisory Council Award, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, awarded to the second author. We thank Harriet Jisa and other members of Dynamique du Langage at the University of Lyon 2 for data collection and transcription of the Lyon Corpus, funded by the NIMH grant. We also thank Matt Adamo, Jennifer Culbertson, Christophe dos Santos, Elizabeth McCullough and Christelle Dodane for research assistance, and Heather Goad, the editors, and two anonymous reviewers for discussion and comments. The authors’ names are listed alphabetically.