The acquisition of ergativity in Inuktitut

MyBook is a cheap paperback edition of the original book and will be sold at uniform, low price.
This Chapter is currently unavailable for purchase.

One potential challenge for children learning Inuktitut comes from the ergative case marking system, because of the contrast between the ergative system in morphology and the accusative system governing syntax. However, no studies have yet been published focusing on how Inuktitut-speaking children acquire ergativity. In this chapter, we investigate this process using naturalistic spontaneous speech data from four Inuktitut-speaking children aged 2;0–3;6. We find that these children largely avoid producing structures that require ergative morphology. Analysis of caregiver speech and spoken narratives from older children and adults shows that this avoidance occurs regardless of age. We conclude that Inuktitut may be in the process of historical change from an ergative-absolutive system to a nominative-accusative system, and that the children’s language reflects that change.


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address