Andoni Barreña Iñaki García Margareta Almgren Nekane Arratibel
The gap produced between lexical and grammatical development is one of the basic psycholinguistic principles which govern the language acquisition process. It is based on the fact that the appearance of the first lexical units precedes the use of morphology and syntax in early child language. In this investigation, the relationship between lexical and grammatical development in children acquiring Basque as L1 is observed. The hypothesis put forth is that children need to acquire a critical mass of vocabulary before morphology and syntax become productive. And, consequently, that vocabulary size provides a better basis than age for determining the stage of children's linguistic development. For this purpose, data from 1417 children aged 8 to 30 months are studied. These data were collected within the frame of the adaptation to Basque of the Instrument called MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory (http://sci.sdsu.edu). In the present study they are analysed both according to these children's age and to their vocabulary size. In addition to the global lexical development, the evolution of the different lexical categories, the first morphological marking used and the initial syntactic productions are analysed. Having observed a close relationship between lexical development and different morphological and syntactic features, we may conclude that our initial hypothesis is confirmed. In the first place, children need to acquire a vocabulary size of more than 100 units in order to start combining two or more words within an utterance. Secondly, morphology appears when vocabulary size has reached at least 200 units and thirdly, 400 or more lexical units are needed for the first VP markings to appear. It has also been observed that before reaching 400 units, children's vocabulary is mainly composed of nouns, whereas above that limit, verbs occupy a more relevant position.
Barreña, A., García, I., Almgren, M., & Arratibel, N. (2011). Lexikoaren eta gramatikaren garapenen arteko erlazioaz. Gogoa, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.1387/gogoa.4009