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Childrens Early Grammars - Essay Example

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The Verb Island hypotheses (Tomasello, 1992) was formulated to explain the lexical-centered application of grammatical rules in children's utterances.
The development of children's acquisition of linguistic skills has been under investigation for a long while. However, no theory has received universal approbation. The arguement that young children's verbs are independent, each developing its own mini-syntax unrelated to other verbs (Tomasello, 1992,2000) though well known in the academia, has also been criticized. According to Tomasello in the insular stage of development, children have inventory specific lexical schemas each used only for the specific predicates. This schemas are independent and do not form a grammatical pattern. It is in a later stage of growth, children develop abstract systems of construction of inter-related verbal patterns.
These early absence of grammatical representations are attested by a number of recent studies. The children's early grammatical constructions are ordered around concrete lexical material. These lexical constructions consist of a term showing relation, often a verb and an open slot meant to be filled by various elements. (Tomasello 1992,2000; Pine and Lieven 1993; Dabrowska 2000;Israel, Johnson and Brooks 2000).The short sentences are from a diary study adopted from Tomasello (1992:285ff). The utterances are from his 2-year-old daughter.
The formationa
That's Daddy.
More corn.
Block get-it.
That's Weezer.
More that.
Bottle get-it
That's my chair.
More cookie.
Phone get-it
That's him.
More mail.
Mama get-it
That's a paper too.
More popsicle.
Towel get-it.
That's Mark's book.
More jump.
Dog get-it.
That's too little for me.
More Pete water.
Books get-it.

The formational mechanism of the utterances shows that they are determined on the occurrence of specific lexical words. They are made up of an element with an open slot that is completed by a noun like expression. The given table identifies the following pattern: That's_____, More_____, ______get-it. The early child parlance is marked by such lexically specific constructions. In all the multiple word combinations made by Tomasello's 2-year-old daughter, it is possible to trace this predilection for the lexical centered speech formation.
The piecemeal, item centered learning is considered by some authorities to have no relation with the child-grammars of individual items. The Verb Island hypothesis delineated by Tomasello (1992,2000) considers the piecemeal acquisition of verbal argument by children characterized by the absence of system. The development of abstract system of interconnected verbal pattern is the product of growth of the child. However, many budding studies in the field question this assumption and argue that the so-called insular stage, though do exist, is only short lived. Researchers have put forward evidence to show that syntactic generalization and skill development for expression show a rich measure of inter-category transfer from a relatively early stage of development. (Ninio, 1999; Childers and Tomsello, 2001). If the previous learning impacts positively in the acquiring of a new task it is an evidence of storage of knowledge in categories and transfer of learning for future use (Singley and Anderson, 1989). The previously acquired knowledge can impact future learning in two ways. It can work as a facilitator of ...Show more


The verbal argument structure constructions that produce meaningful utterances are called by Hornby (1945), one of the pioneers of systematical listings of English construction schemas, as "verb patterns". There are about 25-30 verb patterns in English (Allerton, 1982; Hornby, 1945)…
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Childrens Early Grammars
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