Annual Review of Language Acquisition: Volume 3 (2003)
  • ISSN 1568-1467
  • E-ISSN: 1569-965X
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This study investigates the acquisition of inflectional prefixes in Swahili, an eastern Bantu language. The order of morphemes in adult Swahili is: Subject Agreement – Tense – (Object Agreement) –Verb Root – (derivational suffixes) –Mood Vowel. I present data from an original corpus of 4 Swahili-speaking children (ages 1;8-3;0) who were recorded in Nairobi, Kenya. An analysis of the children’s verbal utterances reveals that four clause types occur in the speech of all four children:a. Agr–T–Verb StemFull Clauseb. Ø–T–Verb Stem[-SA] Clausec. Agr–Ø–Verb Stem[-T] Claused. ؖؖVerb StemBare Verb Stem Of these four, only full clauses and [-SA] clauses are permitted by adults in this non-standard dialect of Swahili. A review of five influential theories on the acquisition of morphosyntax (the Metrical Omission Model, Gerken, 1991; the Truncation Hypothesis, Rizzi, 1994; the Underspecification of T, Wexler, 1994; the underspecification of Agr, Clahsen et al. , 1996; and the underspecification of Agr and T, Schütze & Wexler, 1996) shows that the data support the Agr-Tense Omission Model (Schütze & Wexler, 1996) in showing that agreement and tense may be optionally and independently underspecified.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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