On the acquisition of ambiguous Valency-Marking Morphemes

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A modified version of the Maturation Hypothesis that considers the maturation of chains, the impact of ambiguity on acquisition and the use of overt and systematic morphological cues by children is shown to account for the acquisition findings reported on English, Hebrew, Inuktitut, Kiche, Russian and Sesotho. The Barriere Version of the Maturation hypothesis enables us to predict: (a) the order of acquisition of different SE-constructions (including reflexive, reciprocal, anticausative and middle-passive), (b) the order of acquisition of SE and related (short and long) passive constructions and (c) the manifestations of the overgeneralization of argument structure alternation by French-speaking children. These predictions are born out by the analysis of speech production and experimental data collected on 200 children.


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