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The study on first language acquisition is always a delight. Programme:. Overview of the system of inflectional morphology of Estonian

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Programme l.jpg
Programme: delight...

  • Overview of the system of inflectional morphology of Estonian

  • Acquisition of inflectional types and patterns: Acquisition of analytic and synthetic, agglutinating and fusional formation and some notes concerning the impact of morphological richness of the input language on acquisition rate

  • Acquisition of case

  • Acquisition of tense

  • Acquisition of aspect

  • Communication styles of Estonian children and mothers


Estonia l.jpg
Estonia delight...

  • Estonian language belongs to the Finnic group of the Finno-Ugric language family

  • 1,1 million speakers

  • Estonian language developed on the basis of dialects spoken in the Estonian area in 13th-16th centuries, Standard Estonian started to develop in the 16th century. Estonian was the official language of the Republic of Estonia in 1919-1940 and regained this status once again in 1988.


Why to study the acquisition of first language l.jpg
Why to study the acquisition of first language? delight...

  • To understand the essential nature of the language

    • is the language mainly for communication?

    • or is it for thinking?

    • is the language something that happens with us or something we learn step by step?

    • if the language is something we learn, how do we learn it so quickly at so early age?


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How do we learn a language? delight...

  • If we learn a language by just imitating the language we hear, why do we make mistakes we never hear in the input?

  • Why do children start speaking differently – one with sentences, another with just stems constructing a language peace by peace?

  • Why can children in the same family even, for example, twins of triplets, acquire language in a different way?


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Why to study the acquisition of first language? delight...

  • To help children with SLI (Specific language impairment, 7% of population, need help before 6), to spot children with SLI, and to help them to acquire the language

  • To help those who are acquiring the foreign language (if a 1-2 year old child can acquire a structure of a given language, there must be a universal and very simple acquisition procedure for acquiring this structure).


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And why to study the acquisition of Estonian: delight...Why is the acquisition of Estonian different from the acquisition of English, for example?

  • The languages are different

    • „amount of“ morphology,

    • importance of word order,

    • gradation in Estonian, no future, no gender, a lot of cases etc.

      To understand how and to what extent the structure of language itself can influence the acquisition course and speed.


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Short description of Estonian language from typological perspective

  • The Estonian language has developed historically from an agglutinatingto a more fusional language type (Erelt 2003: 7) and, as is common in inflecting-fusional languages, there is often no clear boundary between the stem and a grammatical formative (Erelt et al. 1995: 129).

  • For example: only 10% of nouns have an unchangeable stem in all their inflectional forms (Erelt et al. 1995: 156).

  • Therefore, phonological changes of the stem are very important in the inflection of Estonian nouns. (Erelt et al. 1995: 129).


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Phonological changes in stems perspective

  • Gradation in Estonian includes on the one hand alternation in quantity, in which a phonetically stronger stem shape (strong grade/3rd degree of length), alternates with a phonetically weaker one (the weak grade/2nd degree of length)

    • for example vanni ‘bath:GEN’ Q2 vs. ‘vanni bath:ILLAT’ Q3

  • On the other hand, there is alternation in quality, which is mostly reflected in the change, assimilation or loss of a single onset obstruent of the second syllable in the weak grade.

    • for example: nägu 'face:NOM' > näo 'face:GEN'


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How children start to acquire a language? perspective

  • The process of language acquisition takes place quite in a similar way in many languages, but still there are some differences between languages.

  • Estonian children start usually to acquire the language from reduplication and onomatopoeia.


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Onomatopoeia perspective: An interesting part of Estonian lexicon which is important in early language acquisition

  • Estonian language as also Finnish has a big amount of onomatopoetic words. All these words are not loanwords and the formation of such words is still productive.

  • For example: the are so called open strings of such words kolisema > kilisema > kõlisema > kulisema - by modifying the stem vowel we can modify the sound.

  • Onomatopoeia is frequently used in the input to small children: for animals (muu, auh-auh, krooks-krooks, mjäu), for machines (viu-viu, põrr-põrr), etc.


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Onomatopoeia and the acquisition of Estonian perspective

  • Onomatopoetic words are the first words in the child's speech already at the end of babbling period. In Estonian usually at age 0;10-1;2.

  • Among very first imitatives are words for familiar animals, for example, a dog (auh-auh Hendrik at age 1;0). The meaning of such an early word can change – at first the word denoted only our own dog, a month later also other dogs, some time later all furry animals and things, even a piece of cotton wool, and after two months it was used only for referring to our own dog, other dogs were referred by standard word koer.


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Onomatopoeia and the input perspective

  • Onomatopoetic words have highly socio-cultural value. They are a part of the communication style used when speaking with small children. They are used in songs and rhymes and in everyday routines („mõmm-mõmm mõmm-mõmm nutab karujõmm, mull-mull-mull-mull väiksed kalad“).

  • Onomatopoetic words are used not only by mothers but also by fathers (although they do not usually admit it).

  • The use of onomatopoeia is changing when the child is growing: for example - at child's age 1;0 the mother uses construction teeb kop-kop 'make-3SG knock-knock', but when the child is 1;7 there is the verb koputama 'to knock' in the speech of the mother. While there were both variants occurring in the speech of the mother several months (from 1;3-1;6).


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Onomatopoeia and the acquisition of grammar perspective

  • Imitatives are not inflecting, they don't have morphology. So, the child can use these words without knowing anything about inflectional rules or patterns. Imitatives are like ready-to-use pieces of language system at the child's age when grammar hasn't started to develop. (For example: teeb kiiga-kaaga, teeb piip-piip, teeb ai-ai, teeb mämm-mämm)‏

  • Onomatopoetic words are reduplicative (tuut-tuut, kop-kop), and reduplicative elements are used when the child has not yet started to acquire the grammar. Reduplication helps the child to recognize the boundary of the syllable and to identify the meaningful piece of the speech flow.


The task for the child the system of inflectional morphology of estonian l.jpg
The task for the child: the system of inflectional morphology of Estonian

  • In Estonian, nominals, i.e. nouns, adjectives, numerals and pronouns, are all inflected for number and case.

    • Estonian has 14 nominal cases, both in the singular and plural.

    • A nominal paradigm may contain case forms consisting of the bare stem or suffixed stems.

  • Verbs have finite forms and non-finite forms. Finite forms are inflected for mood, tense, voice, person, and number.


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”The richer inflection is in the input, the more stimulated children are to develop inflection in this domain, and the more rapid is development” (Dressler et al. 2007: 69).

Children acquiring an agglutinating language develop the inflectional system most rapidly (Laaha & Gillis 2007).

When do Estonian children start to acquire morphology?

Estonian children start to acquire morphology after age 1;2 and before age 2;0.

The first productive forms of the oblique case of the noun appear in the speech of the Estonian child as early as at the age of 1;7, (partitives); the first verb forms (simple present, simple past) become productive somewhat later, at the age of 1;9.


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How can stimulated children are to develop inflection in this domain, and the more rapid is development” (Dressler et al. 2007: 69). (s)he manage with such a difficult task?

  • She starts from highly functional oppositions of two most frequent forms, for example nominative and partitive or imperative and simple past.

    • Nominative can be used for pointing to something and partitive for demanding something.

    • Imperative is used for giving orders and simple past is used for telling of something has happened.


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Some things are easier to acquire stimulated children are to develop inflection in this domain, and the more rapid is development” (Dressler et al. 2007: 69).

  • What makes things easier to acquire?

    • simple and transparent structure of a language element

    • simple and transparent way to make forms

    • input frequency


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Gradation is typologically a very specific feature of Estonian

  • Phonological changes in stems are principally of two kinds:

    • gradation changes (affecting the root and medial sounds) and

    • other changes (omission, addition and ordering changes of final phonemes)‏

    • In addition, there are some suppletive stems

      When the stem is subject to gradation it will occur in strong or weak forms in different grades; in the case of a change concerning the final phoneme there will be different final phonemes in different case forms (Erelt et al. 1995: 130).


At first sight l.jpg

...the gradation can be considered to be a language-specific factor that might hamper the acquisition of the inflectional system because in the case of gradational words a child has to select a suitable stem shape in addition to a suitable suffix.

There are a lot of frequent words with grade alternation in the input, but gradation is sometimes avoided in child-directed speech by numerous diminutive derivatives where a non-gradational word has been derived from an originally gradational word:

koer ‘dog’ > kutsu ‘doggy’; kass ‘cat’ > kiisu ‘kitten’.

At first sight...


Slide21 l.jpg

...Estonian children acquire quantity alternation at an early age and use it to distinguish between two case forms already during the stage when they have not acquired the case suffixes.

For example, functional oppositions of

1) genitivepiti (=pildi) 'picture' Q2 and the partitivepi`tti (=pilti) Q3 (1;8)‏

2) illative na`nni (=vanni) ‘(into) bath’ Q3 and nanni- (=vannis) ‘(in) bath’ Q2;

linna ‘into town’Q3 and li`nna ‘in town’ Q2 (1;8).

Functional oppositions for expressing important semantic roles like direction and location or possessor and object.

But...


Almost errorless acquisition of gradation l.jpg

No overgeneralizations and errors in the acquisition of grade alternation were found, only few errors appeared in case forms with quality alternation; e.g. *nuga-ga 'knife-COM' instead of noa-ga, käsi-ga 'hand-COM' instead of käe-ga.

The functionality of a phenomenon plays the most significant role in the acquisition of grade alternation, that is, if a word form in a weak or strong quantity distinguishes important grammatical meanings (without making words longer than 2 syllables!) and if grade alternation is also frequent, that is, it occurs in those words that are most frequent in child-directed speech, then such a phenomenon is acquired early and withouterrors.

Almost errorless acquisition of gradation


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Acquisition of case grade alternation were found, only few errors appeared in case forms with quality alternation; e.g. *

  • The case system is often regarded as one of themost difficult aspects of Estonian grammar: there are many cases, a single case often has several different allomorphs and the inflectional classes of nouns are not always simple or regular.

  • In spite of the fact that the agglutinating case formation is not complicated in most cases historical developments have produced unpredictable stem changes (especially in the partitive and illative cases).


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First words and first forms grade alternation were found, only few errors appeared in case forms with quality alternation; e.g. *

  • Estonian child usually starts to inflect words when she has at least 50 words in her lexicon.

  • At the beginning almost all nouns are in the nominative, only few lexemes occur in the partitive and genitive. The next cases are the illative and inessive (age 1;8–1;10). There are no instances of marginal cases in children's speech at early stage.


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First rote-learned forms grade alternation were found, only few errors appeared in case forms with quality alternation; e.g. *and oppositions

  • Although some adult-like forms of nouns carrying a suffix do occur already in the premorphological phase, most of the first rote-learned case forms do not carry a suffix.

  • In such forms, the category of case is expressed by the stem variant corresponding to the case form and its function in Standard Estonian.

  • The first forms of nouns contrasting with the nominative are usually forms of other grammatical cases, namely the partitive and genitive; some instances of the nominative opposed to the illative or comitative forms of a given lexeme are also found.


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Acquisition of analytic and synthetic, agglutinating and fusional formation

There is some evidence that agglutinating formation can be acquired more easily than fusional formation technique not only in general, but also within one language because of its transparency.

For example: tüdruku-te-ga 'girl-Pl-COM'

The acquisition of a morphological system is easier if inflectional markers in a word form are ordered so that each suffix corresponds to a specific grammatical category; in case a suffix carries several grammatical meanings, it is more difficult to acquire the inflected form (see Voeikova 2002).


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Agglutination vs Fusion fusional formation

For example, it can be supposed that it would be easier to acquire the agglutinating partitive form tüdruku-i-d 'girl-PL-PRTV'

than the form maja-sid 'house:PL.PRTV' where partitive and plural are mixed into one suffix.

It is possible to use different formation techniques for a partitive plural:

1) the fusional stem plural: maja (house:NOM) > maju (house:PL:PRTV)‏

2) form with the cumulative formative, the sid-marker: maja-sid (house-PL:PRTV)‏

3) agglutinating i-plural forms: raamat (book:NOM) > raamatu-i-d (book-PL-PRTV).


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But how it actually happens: Acquisition order of different partitive plural types

1. First partitive plural form lilli ‘flowers’ was the fusional stem plural, at the age of 1;8, fusional formation productively used at age 2;0.

2. The fusional sid-formative, maja-sid ‘house-PL:PRTV’, patarei-sid ‘batterie- PL:PRTV’ at the age of 2;0, productively used at 2;0.

3. The agglutinating i-formative appeared at age 2;0, katule-i-d ‘potato-PL-PRTV’), the use of the i-plural productive only at 2;4.


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What makes the acquisition of fusional partitive plural easier to acquire

1. Lexical patterns:

First partitive plural nouns occurred often in a quantifier construction (paljuloomi ‘a lot of animals’).

2. Phonological factors:

a) Trochaic stage - the speech of an Estonian child consists of less than 10% words which are longer than 2 syllables at age 2;0. Towards the end of the trochaic stage, from 2;0 the child begins to use also sid-marked andagglutinating i-plural forms, which make the words longer than two syllables.

b) Inability to pronounce a closed non-initial syllable - no words with closed non-initial syllables were found before the age of 2;0.

3. Inputfrequency: 60% of the partitive plural forms in child-directed speech represent fusional formation.


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Error Analysis: Partitive plural easier to acquire

In the case of the stem plural the plural differs from the singular only by the stem vowel.

On the one hand, it is easy to make a distinction between the singular and the plural because the plural form has a different final vowel, on the other hand, the conditions of vowel alternations complicate matters.

  • Many mistakes were made in the choice of the correct stem vowel, especially in a-stem words, as *silme instead of silmi ‘eye:PL.PRTV’ at age 2;6, *kinge instead of kingi ‘shoe:PL.PRTV’ at age 2;8.


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Partitive plural easier to acquire

  • The formation of the partitive plural by the cumulative formative -sid revealed only some mistakes: *onu-seid instead of onu-sid ‘uncle-PL.PRTV’ and *tädi-seid instead of tädi-sid ‘aunt-PL.PRTV’ at the age of 2;6.

    • Analogy of ne-words (punane > punase-i-d'red-PL-PRTV').

  • A child declines the adjective võõras ‘strange’ similarly to typical Estonian ne-ending adjectives (e.g. punane : punase-i-d ‘red-PL-PRTV’). A child was able to form fusional partitive plural forms without any mistakes only at the age of 3;0.

  • Estonian children acquire the fusional vowel plural earlier than the agglutinating plural, but error analysis shows that the correct use of the fusional technique poses more difficulties for a child.


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Rote-learned forms are followed by miniparadigms easier to acquire

  • Miniparadigms are sets of most important forms of the same stem.

  • The first miniparadigms are clearly lexeme-based: there is a certain choice of case forms for each lexeme.

    • Thus, the noun kast ‘box’ is used in the genitive, inessive and elative (Andreas at age 2;0) while other lexemes may be used with different cases.

    • For some pragmatically important lexemes, such as issi ‘daddy’, emme ‘mummy’, piss ‘pee-pee’, see ‘this’, the child needs more forms while for others, three seem to suffice (e.g. müts ‘hat’).

    • Adverb-like nouns usually have only two local case forms, illative and inessive (e.g. ‘ õue ‘(to go) outside:NOM’ and õue-s ‘(to be) outside-INESS’); ‘tuppa ‘room:ILL’(= (to go) inside) vs. toas ‘room-INESS’ (= (to be) inside) Andreas 2;1).


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Miniparadigms easier to acquire

  • The choice of case forms appearing in miniparadigms seems to depend on the semantic category of the noun.

  • There are three main kinds of miniparadigms to be found in Andreas’ data at 2;6:

    • miniparadigms of nouns for food containing three grammatical cases (e.g. pähkli ‘nut:GEN’, pähkli-d ‘nut-NOM:PL’, pähklei-d ‘nut-PARTIT:PL’),

    • miniparadigms of animated nouns and baby-talk words containing grammatical cases and the allative (e.g. issi ‘daddy:NOM’: issi ‘daddy:GEN’ : issi-t ‘daddy-PARTIT’ : issi-le ‘daddy-ALL’) and finally

    • miniparadigms of words expressing location consisting of two or more local cases (e.g. sahtli-sse ‘drawer-ILL’, sahtli-s ‘drawer-INESS’, sahtli-st ‘drawer-ELAT’.


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Abundance of inflectional types and patterns and the speed of acquisition of morphology

  • Estonian has many inflectional classes and a quite complex morphophonology. Children use different strategies to simplify this complicated inflectional system.

    • One such strategy is the overextension of a regular inflectional pattern to irregular nouns. At 2;0, Andreas forms the partitive of the irregular noun juhe ‘wire:NOM’ based on the genitive stem juhtme, as is usual with regularly inflecting nouns without grade alternation, producing juhtme-t instead of juhe-t ‘wire-PARTIT’ without quality alternation.


Abundance of inflectional types and patterns and the speed of acquisition of morphology ii l.jpg

A child does not acquire all inflectional patterns at once; rather at first (s)he picks up those words in child-directed speech that belong only to certain (extremely productive) inflectional types:

preferred inflectional types are highly frequent inflectional types in the input language and productive and open types. For example the type with monosyllabic gradational words with weakening stems, model word sepp ‘blacksmith’), e.g. poeg ‘son’, lill ‘flower’, klots ‘block’.

Abundance of inflectional types and patterns and the speed of acquisition of morphology II


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Children rather at first (s)he picks up those words in child-directed speech that belong only to certain (extremely productive) inflectional types:acquire only some of these types at first


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“The number of cases in a language does not play a special role at the early stage of acquisition because a child does not acquire all the cases at a time but only the core at first” (Voeikova 2002: 34–37)‏

Rate of the acquisition of case

  • Estonian children have acquired the core of Estonian case system (7-10 cases of 14) and the core of verbal inflectional system - all persons, simple present and past, past perfect (in indicative, imperative voice) at age 3;0 .


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Acquisition of case from first rote-learned forms to miniparadigms

  • What was supposed to make the acquisition difficult?

  • Were these factors really making the acquisition process difficult?

  • What makes the acquisition easier?


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Acquisition of Tense miniparadigms

  • Why to study the acquisition of tense?

    • to understand how children start to acquire temporal relations, for example, how they start to differentiate past from non-past

    • tense morphology has been a most vulnerable area of language system for children with SLI


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Tense in Estonian miniparadigms

Estonian has a comparatively small core tense system. In traditional grammars of Estonian language, four tenses are distinguished.

Estonian has no morphological form for the future, which is expressed with present tense form and by some kind of lexical means.

  • Present tense is unmarked: kuku-n 'fall-1Sg'.

  • Imperfect uses agglutinative means in indicative (kukku-si-n 'fall-PAST-1Sg') and analytic means in other moods and analytic means also in negative.

  • Perfect and past perfect use analytic means.


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How I studied the acquisition tense miniparadigms

  • Experiment

  • Design: the road and three landmarks on the road referring to the past, present and future, the protagonist who has to perform the same action near these landmarks.

  • Comprehension and production: Sentences in comprehension were presented to the child and she had to point to one of landmarks. The beginnings of these sentences were presented to the child in production part and child had to elicit these sentences.

    • COMPREHENSION: The king was snoring ...

    • PRODUCTION: Near the plant the king ...

      TEST!


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Comprehension (N=20, aged 5;0-6;0) miniparadigms

  • Children can understand present.

  • They can not fully understand past and future, but they still have started to acquire these tenses.

  • There could be a initial present-centered tense-system for children (they start to differentiate tenses from one big present tense system - me-here-now)‏


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Production (N=20, age 5;0-6;0) miniparadigms‏

  • Children produce correctly past, but no present and future.

  • Why?


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Future in Estonian miniparadigms

  • Present tense form

  • Present tense form + time adverbial

  • Periphrastic construction ‘to start to....’

  • Perphrastic construction ‘to go to...’

  • Only last two options are grammaticalized as a future forms – tense

  • Three last options are differentiable from the present


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Production: miniparadigmsTenses used


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Conclusions: acquisition of tense miniparadigms

  • The design of the experiment can influence the use of past tense in present situations.

  • There is no uniform present-centered tense-system in the acquisition of Estonian.

  • The future was interesting – children used a lot of negative constructions (has not done yet, has not snored, is not snoring) – they differentiate future from present using past! The future is problematic also cognitively – you have not seen the situation yet, how can you decide if the action will take place or not...

  • The tense is not acquired at age 5;0-6;0 in Estonian.


Aspect some general remarks l.jpg

Similarly to the other Finno-Ugric languages, the aspect in Estonian has not developed into a consistent grammatical category. The aspect can be expressed by means of progressive and resultative constructions (mostly with adverbs and verb particles) as well as by the case alternation of the object.

The case alternation of the object is a manifestation of the aspect expressed by grammatical means in Estonian. It is the most regular means of expressing the aspect in Estonian.

Aspect: some general remarks


The choice of the object case l.jpg

...is determined: Estonian has not developed into a consistent grammatical category. The aspect can be expressed by means of progressive and resultative constructions (mostly with adverbs and verb particles) as well as by the case alternation of the object.

1) by the perfectivity or imperfectivity of the action and,

2) by the quantitative boundedness or non-boundedness of the object item.

The totalobject (object in the genitive or the nominative) is used when both the action and the object item are bounded, and the partial object (object in the partitive case) is used when the action, object item, or both are unbounded (Erelt et al. 1995: 51–52; Tamm 2004: 29).

Thus, the Estonian object may occur in three grammatical cases:

the partial object in the partitive,

and the total object in the genitive (singular) and the nominative.

The choice of the object case...


What was my question l.jpg

Case alternation is a very difficult part of Estonian grammar for learners of Estonian as a second language. - is it difficult also for children?

When do Estonian children acquire case alternation?

Would it be easier in certain kinds of situations or not?

What was my question?


How i studied the acquisition of aspect l.jpg
How I studied the acquisition of aspect grammar for learners of Estonian as a second language. - is it difficult also for children?

  • Experiment: comprehension and production

  • Four conditions: Completed situation – Perfective form, Completed situation – Imperfective form, Incompleted situation – Imperfective form, Incompleted situation – Perfective form

  • Two conditions in production test: Completed situation and Incompleted situation

  • Tense is constant (past), aspect (genitive - partitive form) varies

  • Situation is presented visually (video clips) in comprehension test the child must decide if the sentence is tru or not, in production test children must elicit sentences

  • There are some triggers between test items to keep the child's attention on the task.

    TEST!


Example l.jpg
Example grammar for learners of Estonian as a second language. - is it difficult also for children?

  • Video

  • Comprehension:

    • Introduction: Here is a clown, he has to draw several things. Sometimes she will get ready sometimes not. At first the sun.

    • Trigger: When the music stopped, was the pencil touching the board?

    • Question (Com-I): While the music was playing the clown was drawing the sun. True or not?

  • Production:

    • Introduction: Now the moon. Tell me about the moon and drawing.

    • Test sentence: While the music was playing the clown...


Results control group n 20 comprehension l.jpg
Results: control group grammar for learners of Estonian as a second language. - is it difficult also for children? (N=20)Comprehension


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Adults grammar for learners of Estonian as a second language. - is it difficult also for children?Production


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Children (N=20, age 5;0-6;0) grammar for learners of Estonian as a second language. - is it difficult also for children?Comprehension


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Correct answers with different verbs grammar for learners of Estonian as a second language. - is it difficult also for children?


Conclusions l.jpg
Conclusions grammar for learners of Estonian as a second language. - is it difficult also for children?:

  • What is the common feature of verbs with low results?

  • What kind of conclusions we can draw of these results?


Children production l.jpg
Children grammar for learners of Estonian as a second language. - is it difficult also for children?Production


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Answers and verbs (and objects) grammar for learners of Estonian as a second language. - is it difficult also for children?‏


Conclusions about the experiment used l.jpg
Conclusions about the experiment used grammar for learners of Estonian as a second language. - is it difficult also for children?

  • Estonian children acquire the case alternation (the aspect) quite late, after age 5.

  • The semantics of used verbs is extremely important! So – the aspect in Estonian can not be considered to be fully grammaticized in the case alternation.

  • There is some inconsistent use of case alternation also in adult data.


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Conclusion: How does the Estonian Child Acquire Estonian language

  • The richness of the Estonian morphological system stimulates the acquisition of inflectional morphology at an early age, whereas the large number of inflectional types and patterns does not slow down the acquisition of morphology.

  • The child uses the so-called compensatory strategies for copying with a fragmented system of inflectional patterns and restricts at first the number of inflectional types to two or three most productive and most frequent types in child-directed speech.


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How does the Estonian Child Acquire Estonian language II language

  • Grade alternation, which is a characteristic feature of the Finnic languages, is acquired at an early age, whereas quantity alternation is acquired earlier than quality alternation.

  • A child acquiring the Estonian language starts to pay attention to the case alternation of the object, that is, to use both the partial and the total object with one and the same verb, rather early, but the correct choice of the object case will be acquired as late as at the age of six.


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  • When coping with the categories and the large number of inflectional patterns, the child uses the acquisition of an initial restricted system as a compensatory strategy.

  • On the other hand, in the case of morphologically complicated forms (partitive plural) and the choice of the case of the object or the acquisition of the most difficult rule the child relies on some special lexical pattern.

  • It can be claimed, however, that in the case of all the studied structures a child begins the acquisition of Estonian inflectional morphology from those parts of the language that are typologically characteristic, unmarked, and central. Parts of language structure which are not stable (case alternation in objects), are acquired later.