Social Interaction, Social Context, and Language: Essays in Honor of Susan Ervin-Tripp

By Dan Isaac Slobin; Julie Gerhardt et al. | Go to book overview
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17 1
LISTENING TO A TURKISH MOTHER: SOME PUZZLES FOR ACQUISITION

Aylin Küntay
University of California, Berkeley

Dan I. Slobin
University of California, Berkeley

Most studies of child-directed speech (CDS), or "input," have used English data. However, detailed studies of several other languages have begun to raise new questions, at all levels of linguistic analysis.2 In the present chapter we examine the speech of one Turkish mother, in natural settings, speaking to a child in the one-word period. Using these data, we seek to systematically explore several characteristic linguistic devices of Turkish in the light of some current claims about input and children's strategies for dealing with it. We attend, particularly, to the "puzzles" presented to a child by a language with flexible word order, complex nominal and verbal morphology, and a high rate of nominal ellipsis. These factors are relevant to current debates about the roles of nouns and verbs in early acquisition, with regard to both lexical and morphological acquisition. More broadly, we attempt to characterize the structure of CDS in a language that is different in important ways from the other types of languages that have been described in the input literature.

Our data come from one mother, speaking to her daughter over the course of seven

____________________
1
This study was carried out with support of a National Science Foundation Grant (BNS-8812854) to the second author, using facilities provided by the Institute of Cognitive Studies and the Institute of Human Development of the University of California at Berkeley.
2
See for example, a review chapter by Peters ( 1996) on the influence of phonology and prosody on the acquisition of grammatical morphology across different types of languages; a review chapter by Lieven ( 1994) on crosslinguistic and crosscultural aspects of CDS; and studies of individual languages: Ziesler and Demuth ( 1995) on the role of prosody, register, and frequency in Sesotho CDS; Fernald and Morikawa ( 1993) on syntactic and discourse factors in Japanese CDS; Choi and Gopnik (in press) on the roles of nouns and verbs in Korean and English CDS; Tardif ( 1993, 1994) on similar issues in Mandarin CDS; Camaioni and Longobardi ( 1994) on discourse factors in Italian CDS; and Ochs and Schieffelin ( 1984) on the role of a number of sociolinguistic variables in American, Samoan, and Kaluli CDS. For an early crosslinguistic study of the nature of talk to children see Slobin ( 1975). For a current state-of-the-art overview, see Gallaway and Richards' ( 1994) edited volume, Input and Interaction in Language Acquisition.

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