Semester of Graduation

Spring 2021

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Background: In A First Language (1973), Roger Brown called for an increase in crosslinguistic data and analysis of morphosyntax across languages as more research in this field is crucial for working out the overarching determinants of language acquisition order and for the ability to accurately compare child language acquisition across different languages. An increase in this research would benefit linguistic researchers and speech-language-pathologists offering services to or evaluating children speaking a different language or more than one language. The current study seeks to add to the field of crosslinguistic research by adapting Brown’s guidelines of English language acquisition to the morphosyntax of standard Italian. Method: Participants included monolingual, typically developing Italian-speaking children aged 1;4-3;4. The longitudinal transcripts analyzed were provided by The Child Language Data Exchange System (CHILDES). Data was collected on the children’s productions of 10 chosen Italian morphemes (adapted from Brown’s 14 English morphemes) and their Mean Length of Utterance (MLU). Results: For the 10 morphemes, the Italian Ages of Acquisition (AoAs) begin and end later and include a wider period of time for the Present Progressive; begin sooner yet end later for in and su; and begin and end earlier for Plurals, Irregular Past Tense, Possessive di, Articles, Regular Past Tense, 3rd Person Regular Present, and 3rd Person Irregular Present. For the MLU Stages I-V+, the Italian AoAs generally begin and end earlier than the English AoAs. Discussion: The findings of this report support the application of Brown’s (1973) language acquisition measurement to languages beyond English and call for further research in this topic to minimize the gaps in knowledge between accurate, cross-linguistic comparison of children’s first language acquisition.

Committee Chair

Gibson, Todd A.

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