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Jakarta Field Station > Former Collaborative Projects > Acq. of Morpho-phonology

Acquisition of morpho-phonology

Outside Scientists:
Caro Struijke (Free University, Amsterdam)

MPI Scientist:
David Gil

NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research)

This research aims to gain insight into the acquisition of morphologically conditioned phonological alternations. It focuses on the acquisition of the Jakarta Indonesian prefix denoting the agent. This prefix exhibits several allomorphs, resulting in coalescence with the root-initial segment, a word-initial nasal-stop sequence, or prefixation with epenthesis of schwa. Some of the phonotactic generalizations associated with the prefix are only found in this environment. The immediate goal of this research is to track the development of this allomorphy in young children.

We first investigate if and when children are aware of the morphological complexity of words containing the prefix. Children participate in a 'wug-test', in which they are probed to create complex forms based on nonce items. In addition, we study spontaneous speech collected in the MPI field station database, in which overgeneralization of affixation and other patterns give clues as to the productivity of the prefix in children (and adults).

The database and experimental data also give insight into the development of the individual allomorphs. We may expect that the different allomorphs are acquired at different stages, as the phonological processes associated with them vary in complexity, and cause differences in recoverability of the stem. We also look into the question as to whether the discrepancy of phonotactics associated with the prefix and those associated with other morphological environments influences the acquisition of the individual allomorphs.

Last modified: 19 January 2004
Location: morphophonology.php.html