Arbeitspapier / Institut für Sprachwissenschaft, Universität Köln
- N.F. 55
The acquisition of Greek case, number, and gender: a usage based approach
- Children […] growing up with highly inflected languages such as Modern Greek will frequently hear different grammatical forms of a given lexeme used in different grammatical and semantic-pragmatic contexts. In spite of the fact that the Greek noun is not as highly inflected as the verb, acquisition of nominal inflection of this inflecting-fusional language is quite complex, comprising the three categories of case, number, and gender. As is usual in this type of language, the formation of case-number forms obeys different patterns that apply to largely arbitrary classes of nominal lexemes partially based on gender. Further, frequency of the occurrence of the three gender classes and case-number forms of nouns greatly differs in spoken Greek, regarding both the types and tokens. […] [A] child learning an inflecting-fusional language like Greek must construct different inflectional patterns depending not only on parts of speech but also on subclasses within a given part of speech, such as gender classes of nouns and inflectional classes within or (exceptionally) across genders. It is therefore to be expected that the early development of case and number distinctions will apply to specific nouns and subclasses of nouns rather than the totality of Greek nouns. The two main theoretical approaches of morphological development that will be discussed in the present paper are the usage-based approach and the pre- and protomorphology approach.