The interaction of function and input frequency in L1-acquisition

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The study reported in this chapter investigates the L1 acquisition of a group of wh-questions by a German-learning boy. It is assumed their acquisition will generally follow input frequency, but also interact with functional factors and previous linguistic knowledge. The input frequencies of the target structures are assessed and an order of acquisition predicted. This order is then compared to the actual course of acquisition and the deviations investigated. Results show that the acquisition of wh-questions is influenced by their input frequency as well as their communicative use and the knowledge of related constructions. The study argues for a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods in language acquisition research and recommends the consideration of several factors at once.


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