2009 | 1 | 1 | 40-47
Article title

Emergence of Case Meanings in Russian - Empirical Evidence from One Month, from One Child

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Introduction The article presents emergence of case marking on nouns and development of case meanings within one month in the acquisition of Russian. For this purpose density recordings of 1;9 were extracted from longitudinal data of Liza E. As revealed by the analysis, within less than one month the inflections of all cases occur in singular. Data show that the emergence of case marking and case meanings take place parallel to a continuous use of one-word utterances. Rich inflectional morphology (being combined with sufficient lexicon) compensates for the poverty of argument structure and the complexity of an utterance. The child does not need several components in the utterance to make it clear.Aim of the study Beyond a descriptive goal, this study aims at tracing order of the emergence of case meanings at age 1;09 with one child. At the same time it gives brief information about the early lexicon, number of components of utterances and lexical spurt in nouns and case meanings around age 1;09.Materials and methods Longitudinal videotaped recordings of Liza E. at the age of one month were used. All density recordings from 1;09 were divided according to the equal intervals, so that the occurrence of all case forms and meanings during 27 days was traced.Results The data provide evidence for the emergence of all case forms and a broad range of case meanings within approx. one month. This intensive increase within a relatively short period of time can be called an inflectional spurt in noun case inflection and case meanings. Earlier, at 1;08, a vocabulary spurt in Liza was documented. The intensive development in the domain of the lexicon and noun morphology around 1;09 was not documented for syntax: the number of utterance components stayed at the level of one or two words. Thus, our empirical data do not corroborate the co-development hypothesis of Rispoli (1999), who proposes co-development of case marking and agreement of subjects with verbs.The order of the emergence of cases is NOM, ACC, LOC, GEN, DAT, and INST. These case meanings occur gradually, despite the restricted interval between their first occurrences.Conclusions Our empirical data do not corroborate the co-development hypothesis of Rispoli (1999), who proposes the co-development of case marking and agreement of subjects with verbs. We presented only the initial occurrences of case meanings and did not treat the contrastive case oppositions, so the question about factors determining the acquisition of a given form or category stays beyond the scope of the present article. The order of occurrence of case forms and meanings in general does corroborate previous findings on the acquisition of cases in other languages (see, for example (Szagun 2004; Tracy 1986; Voeikova, Dressler 2002)).
Physical description
  • Center for General Linguistics, Berlin, Germany
  • Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia, St. Petersburg, Russia
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