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Title: The acquisition of object markers by Bemba-speaking children
Author: Mwansa, Joseph Mwenya
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2011
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This study reports on three empirical studies which were undertaken to investigate the acquisition of object markers by Bemba speaking children and to compare the findings to age- matched French-speaking children. The motivation for the comparative study comes from the claim by Cocchi (2000) and Labelle (2008) that Bantu object markers and Romance clitics can be given a unitary analysis. In both language families as Cocchi (2000) points out, object , markers encode phi-features of corresponding lexical DPs, express syntactic relations of object, indirect objet, locative, and reflexive. They replace lexical arguments and have a similar syntactic distribution surfacing to the left of the verb. The study investigates the implications of these similarities in the acquisition of object markers in both language families. The Bemba spontaneous data shows similarities between Bemba and French children in terms of ages of acquisition and omission of object arguments. The data however, does not clearly show the delay in the acquisition of the object marker as opposed to the subject marker that is attested in child French. The elicitation production experiment shows that Bemba children do not randomly omit objects but appear to obey semantic and pragmatic constraints that license null objects in the target language whereas high rates of non-target omissions have been reported in child French. Bemba children, like French children, rejected the null object construction in a replication study of Griiter's (2006) Truth Value Judgment task (which had been used with French Canadian children of an equivalent age range). This is interpreted as showing that Bemba children like their French counterparts have no null object representation in their grammar. It is argued that because the null object construction is licit in adult Bemba (given the appropriate pragmatic constraints that license them), Bemba children do not have to unlearn it as it is not a defect in their grammar whereas French children will have to adjust to what is permitted in the target language.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available