The acquisition of inflectional morphology: The representation of nominal inflections in Amharic speaking children’s speeches
This study describes the acquisition of inflectional morphology with particular focus of nominal inflections and it employed cross sectional research design to gather the speech data from twelve Amharic speaking children using picture description, picture narration, spontaneous speech elicitation, and story-telling tasks. The data were audio-recorded, transcribed using IPA, and analyzed. The result indicated that the presence of correct and erroneous production of nominal inflections. The highest percentage of correct nominal inflections was registered, especially; gender, person, and possessive morphemes had a better representation in all children’s speeches. Children also appropriately addressed and assigned meaning to plural, definite, and case inflections in a certain utterance. On the other hand, they were seen unable to apply the correct forms in other circumstance. When they were exposed to full paradigms, they encountered difficulty of identifying the distribution of nominal inflections and their assigned meaning. As result, children were committing errors of omission (plural, definite, and accusative inflection errors) and paradigm shift (over-generalization of regular plural marker) and the situation was measurably visible across age groups. In short, when children were unable to deal with the combinational occurrence of nominal morphemes, the complexity of the assigned meaning and their functional loads, errors of omission and paradigm shift were observable at different levels. This highlighted that a cumulative and complete representation of inflectional morphemes and their mastery require long period to be accomplished.
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