The acquisition of morphology by children acquiring Shona as a first language
Sibanda, Cathrine Ruvimbo
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This thesis explores children’s acquisition of Shona morphology, in particular the acquisition of grammatical morphemes. The thesis describes how the morphology of Shona-speaking children develops. Of key interest is how they acquire inflections and the strategies they adopt. Slobin’s Operating Principles (henceforth OPs) are used as the framework for data analysis. The hypotheses that are used in this thesis generate from Slobin’s OPs. The data is analysed using morphological analysis and hypotheses derived from Slobin’s OPs. The findings of this study show that nouns and verbs are first produced in the form of content words without the grammatical morphemes (GMs) then they occur with a vowel that is part of the target GM. The final stage of the development of GMs is when children produce words that are similar to adult words. The strategies that are used by the children conform to the hypotheses that are derived from Slobin’s OPs. There is evidence of overgeneralisation of the plural morpheme (ma-). This study also reveals the order of acquisition of some GMs. A noteworthy feature of the three children’s speech is the sheer number of productive GMs that they could handle. The findings of this study contribute to the areas of morphology and child language acquisition of Bantu languages in general and of Shona in particular. The data that are gathered for this study could also be used in studies of other aspects of the acquisition of Shona such as that of syntax.
child language acquisition