Linguistik-Klassifikation: Spracherwerb / Language acquisition
On the Early Development of Aspect in Greek and Russian Child Language, a Comparative Analysis
- The category of aspect is grammaticized in both Greek and Russian opposing perfective and imperfective verb forms in all inflectional categories except the nonpast (‘present’). Despite these similarities there are important differences in the way the aspectual systems function in the two languages. While in Greek nearly all verbs oppose a perfective to a given imperfective grammatical form, Russian aspect is more strongly lexicalized with pairs of imperfective and perfective lexemes not only differing aspectually, but also as far as their lexical meanings are concerned. This is especially true of perfective verbs formed by prefixes as compared to their imperfective bases. Thus, in pairs of prefixed and unprefixed dynamic verbs, the derived prefixed (perfective) member has a telic meaning while its unprefixed (imperfective) counterpart is atelic (e.g. sjest’ (PFV) ‘to eat up’ vs. jest’ (IPF) ‘to eat’). Such derived perfective verbs may in turn be “secondarily” imperfectivized by suffixation furnishing the only “true” perfective/imperfective pairs of verbs (e.g. sjest’ (PFV) ‘to eat up’ vs. sjedat’ (IPF) ‘to eat up’ (iterative)). “Secondary” imperfectives do not occur in our child data.
In this pilot study, we will analyze the tense-aspect-mood forms of the 20 most frequent verbs with equivalent meanings occurring in the longitudinal audiotaped data of a Greek and a Russian boy between 2;1 and 2;3 (their entire lexical inventories comprise approx. 100 verbs each).
We adopt a constructivist perspective on the development of aspect in Greek and Russian child language and will show that in spite of a broad inventory of imperfective and perfective verb forms to be found in the speech of both children aspect has not yet developed into a generalized grammatical category, but is strongly dependent on aktionsart (stative/dynamic, telic/atelic) in both languages. While this results in a strong preference for perfective verb forms of telic verbs and of imperfective forms of atelic ones in the speech of the Greek boy, the Russian child tends to use the unmarked members.
The modality constituent : a neglected area in the study of first language acquisition
- Studies of syntax in first language acquisition have so far concentrated on the propositional side of the sentence, i.e. on the occurrence and interplay of semantic roles like agent, benefactive, objective, etc. and their syntactic expression. The modality constituent, however, has received little attention in the study of child language. This may be due in part to the impetus more recent research in this field has received from studies of the acquisition of English, a language with poor verb morphology as compared to synthetic languages. The research to be presented in this paper is concerned with an early stage of the acquisition of Modern Greek as a first language, a language with a particularly rich verb morphology. Since modality, aspect, and tense are obligatorily marked on the main verb in Mod. Greek, this language offers an excellent opportunity for studying the development of these fundamental categories of verbal grammar at an earlier stage than in more analytic languages. [...] As this paper is concerned with the semantic categories of verbal grammar mentioned above as weIl as with their formal expression, only utterances containing a verb will be considered. For reasons of space we shall further limit ourselves to those utterances containing a main verb. Such utterances divide into two classes, modal and non-modal. [...] In spite of Calbert's claim (Calbert 1975) that there are no strictly non-modal expressions, affirmative and negative statements as well as questions not containing a modal verb will be considered as non-modal. As will be shown below, modal and non-modal expressions are formally differentiated at the stage of language acquisition studied.