The acquisition of grammatical categories

Behrens, Heike. (2015) The acquisition of grammatical categories. In: The Cambridge Handbook of Child Language. Cambrigde, pp. 250-270.

PDF - Published Version

Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/39480/

Downloads: Statistics Overview


Grammatical categories encode conceptual domains and contrast them with others. They include the part-of-speech categories of words as well as morphological markers that encode functions like number, case, gender, tense, aspect or voice. In linguistic terminology, morphology deals with the grammar of words (Booij 2012), whereas syntax is concerned with the relationship between words. Words differ regarding the syntactic functions they can assume (part-of-speech category or word class), as well as their morphological structure: a word stem can be combined with inflectional and derivational affixes, or undergo stem changes to encode grammatical functions; and words can also take part in compositional processes to form new, more complex words (compounding, derivation). Grammatical morphology is typically encoded by affixes that combine with content words like verbs, nouns and adjectives. Typological research shows that languages differ widely regarding the categories they differentiate by means of morphology, and the way in which they do it (cf. Ch. 6). The language learning child has to segment complex morphological forms in order to identify the stem, but also in order to identify the function of the grammatical markers, and establish inflectional paradigms. When the system is fully mastered, the speaker is able to use the lexical items as well as the inflectional markers in the appropriate range of constructions, while also observing constraints in the use of these forms. Section 12.2 provides an introduction to the formal and functional specification of grammatical categories, followed by a characterization on the learning strategies needed to acquire complex grammatical forms (Section 12.3). After a discussion of typical morphological development and the criteria to assess development (Section 12.4), processes in acquiring the form-function mapping in plural formation and tense aspect marking will be discussed (Section 12.5).
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften > Fachbereich Deutsche Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft > Kognitive Linguistik und Spracherwerbsforschung (Behrens, dt. Sprachw.)
04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften > Fachbereich Englische Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft > Kognitive Linguistik und Spracherwerbsforschung (Behrens, engl. Sprachw.)
UniBasel Contributors:Behrens, Heike
Item Type:Book Section, refereed
Book Section Subtype:Book Chapter
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
Series Name:Cambridge Handbooks in Linguistics
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Book item -- Edition: 2
Identification Number:
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:13 Dec 2017 15:36
Deposited On:23 Jun 2016 09:08

Repository Staff Only: item control page