Formation of the verb system in Russian children, D Kiebzak

Tags: Varja, Kirill, verb forms, past tense, Jagiellonian University, Russian children, present tense, temporal relations, Antinucci, language acquisition, Lawrence Erlbaum, conditional sentences, Polska Akademia Nauk, perfective aspect, Hillsdale, NJ, Journal of Child Language, material PRESENT, temporal perspectives, PRESENT PAST FUTURE, Polish children, forms express, Polish language, child language, result perspective, Akademii Pedagogicheskix Nauk RSFSR
Content: Psychology of Language and Communication 2000, Vol. 4. No. 1 DOROTA KIEBZAK-MANDERA Jagiellonian University, Cracow FORMATION OF THE VERB SYSTEM IN RUSSIAN CHILDREN Problems associated with the functioning of early temporal and aspectual forms are still under discussion among developmental psycholinguists (for a review see e.g. Behrens, 1995). Some of them favor the aspect-before-tense hypothesis (Antinucci & Miller, 1976). Studies on the acquisition of Polish language do not support this hypothesis (Weist et al., 1984; Smoczyсska, 1986). It was found that tense and aspect are marked simultaneously from the very beginning: past tense forms are restricted neither to telic verbs nor to perfective aspect. The article presents the results of analyses of three Russian children' corpora: Varja (1;2-3;0), Kirill (1;8-3;0) and Anja (1;2-3;5). A total of 34000 verb forms were identified. The findings are very similar to those of Weist. The analyses presented here also negate Antinucci & Miller's hypothesis. They show children's early ability to mark both tense and aspect. Data The present paper is based on the data of three Russian children: Varja, Kirill and Anja, all from middle-class families, speaking the standard version of Russian in their homes. The data were collected by the children's mothers who were psycholinguists. The children were under observation up to the end of their third year. The material of Varja and Anja comes both from tape-recordings and diary studies, while Kirill's data only from tape-recordings. Reference for the language under acquisition is that of the surroundings the child is growing up in. In analyzing the process of first language acquisition, one should consider what the child actually hears. Lacking a systematic description of the Russian language used in talking to children, I decided to analyze the adults' language registered in the material under analysis. For this purpose I chose the most representative, tape-recorded The paper is a slightly modified version of the author's presentation of her PhD thesis entitled "Ksztaіtowanie siк systemu werbalnego u dzieci rosyjskich: analiza porуwnawcza" [Formation of the verb system in Russian children: a comparative study]. Professor Magdalena Smoczyсska was the supervisor. Requests for reprints should be sent to Dorota Kiebzak-Mandera, Jagiellonian University, Department of General and Indo-European Linguistics, Al. Mickiewicza 9/11, Krakуw, e-mail: [email protected]
28
DOROTA KIEBZAK-MANDERA
corpus of data, that of Kirill's mother. In all, ca 34.000 different verb forms were analyzed. About 19.000 of these forms came from the children's corpora, the remainder registered in the speech directed to them. The quantitative structure of the material is presented in Table 1.
Table 1. Quantitative analysis of the material
Varja Kirill Anja Total for children Kirill's mother Total
Diary 6628 782
Recordings 3135 6340 2292 14677
Total 9763 6340 3074 19177 14677 33854
All the data were computerized and elaborated according to CHILDES (Child Language Data Exchange System: MacWhinney, 1991). Form distribution in the adult language Percentages of the particular forms counted for each month separately remained on a fairly equal level during the period under observation in the corpus of Kirill's mother. Therefore I refer to the form frequency counted for the corpus taken together. These data are shown in Table 2: The analysis below shows which verbal categories are central in the language and which are peripheral. Indicative forms constitute 70% of all noted verb forms. present tense forms constitute about 1/3 of all the forms, and past tense forms about 22%. The
Table 2. Percentages of verb forms in the corpus of Kirill's mother
PRESENT TENSE FUT. PFV. TENSE FUT. IPFV. TENSE PAST TENSE CONDITIONAL IMPERATIVE INFINITIVE PARTICIPIA VERBAL NOUNS Total N
Total 32 11 6 22 >1 14 13 1 >1 100 14689
FORMATION OF THE VERB SYSTEM IN RUSSIAN CHILDREN
29
percentage of future tense forms is 17%, containing simple (perfective) future forms (11%), and analytic (imperfective) future forms (6%). There was also a significant number of imperative forms (14%) as well as infinitives (13%). The percentage of other forms is low: conditionals and verbal nouns constitute less than 1%, participia about 1%. The emergence of verb categories In the early phase of verb morphology formation the majority of forms used by children do not correspond to their functions in adult speech1. It can even be said that words used in the early phases of language acquisition are amorphic, "fossilized". The meanings of such proto-forms in children's speech are often very wide. For example, the lexeme poekai (=poexali: PFV:PAST:PL, `we went'), found in Varja's data from 1;2, was used in initiating any form of movement (e.g., when a doll Varja plays with starts "walking"), in everyday, ritual situations (e.g., while putting a hand into a sleeve) as well as to name a car, wheels, a baby-carriage, sleigh, tank, etc. It is difficult to determine when the actual process of formation of the verb morphology system begins in children. Verb forms used by a child must correspond to their functions. The quantitative criterion is also important: a child must use at least two or three different forms belonging to the same category but derived from different verb stems (e.g., davaj: IPFV:IMPER:SG:2 `give', pishi: IPFV:IMPER:SG:2 `write', risuj: IPFV:IMPER:SG:2 `draw'). Gvozdev (1949) suggests that a child should be able to create different forms on the basis of the same stem (e.g., dat': PFV:INF `to give', daj: PFV:IMPER:SG:2 `give', dal: PFV:PAST:SG:M `gave', dam: PFV:FUT:SG:3 `I will give'). According to this author, one can be certain that a child has fully acquired a particular category when he/she creates neologisms by analogy (e.g., instead of risuj: IPFV:IMPER:SG:2 the child says *risovaj). The language development of Kirill and Anja was quite similar. Varja's way, however, was completely different. The girl started to talk very early, and she was a so-called phrasal child (Pine & Lieven, 1993). Such children first memorize whole long phrases (formulae), use them in situations similar to those in which they were heard, and only then they analyze them: (1) VAR 1;5 situation: Varja is giving a book and commenting: Pasiba (=spasibo), Ain'ka (=Varen'ka), o (=vot) tak, daj ­ daj ­ daj. thanks, Varen'ka:NOM:SG, like+this, give:PFV:IMPER:SG:2 ­ give:PFV:IMPER:SG:2 ­ give:PFV:IMPER:SG:2 `Thanks, Varen'ka, like this, give ­ give ­ give.' Such formulae started to disappear in Varja's speech at the end of 1;6. Tables 3a, 3b, 3c present percentages of forms counted in the children's corpora. Early stage data are shown at monthly intervals and later data, when the percentages are already stabilized, at quarterly intervals. 1 This phenomenon regards not only verb forms but all others as well.
30
DOROTA KIEBZAK-MANDERA
Table 3a. Percentages of verb forms at quarterly intervals in Varja's corpus
Early phase
VII VIII
IX
X XI XII
1;2 1;3 1;4 1;5 1;6-1;9 1;9-2;0 2;0-2;3 2;3-2;6 2;6-2;9 2;9-3;0 Total
PRESENT
3 27 43 40 37 41
FUT. PFV.
- 3 14 10 12
7
FUT. IPFV.
-1 14
2
3
PAST
34 9 12 14 16 22
CONDITIONAL - - - - >1 >1
IMPERATIVE
9 4 2 14 11
8
INFINITIVE
54 56 28 17 20 17
PARTICIPIA
- - -1
1
1
VERBAL NOUNS - - - - >1
-
Total
100 100 100 100 100 100
34
35
37 35 37
8
9
8 11
9
6
7
5
7
4
24
24
25 24 21
1
2
1
1
1
12
9
7
7 10
15
12
14 13 17
1
2
3
1
1
>1
>1
>1 >1 >1
100 100 100 100 100
N Stems*
32 124 102 370 2234 10 45 70 107 208
*stems in all the children are counted cumulatively
2117 296
1576 1502 364 429
622 1084 9763 454 495
Table 3b. Percentages of verb forms at quarterly intervals in Kirill's corpus
1;8
PRESENT
-
FUT. PFV.
-
FUT. IPFV.
-
PAST
33
CONDITIONAL
-
IMPERATIVE
-
INFINITIVE
67
PARTICIPIA
-
VERBAL NOUNS
-
Total
100
N
6
Stems
2
Early phase 1;9 1;10 1;11
4 11
17
-
1
8
-
-
2
-
1
2
-
-
-
24 65
41
72 22
28
-
-
2
-
-
-
100 100 100
50 105 338
7 23
56
IX 2;0-2;3 35 14 3 16 15 16 1 100 1102 161
X
XI
2;3-2;6 2;6-2;9
35
38
12
11
4
5
26
24
>1
1
10
8
11
11
1
2
-
-
100 100
1187 1968 235 333
XII 2;9-3;0 38 11 3 27 1 8 10 2 100 1584 406
Total 35 11 4 22 1 13 13 2 100 6340
Table 3c. Percentages of verb forms at quarterly intervals in Anja's corpus
1;11
PRESENT
17
FUT. PFV.
15
FUT. IPFV.
1
PAST
26
CONDITIONAL
-
IMPERATIVE
31
INFINITIVE
10
PARTICIPIA
-
VERBAL NOUNS
-
Total
100
N
82
Stems
57
IX 2;0-2;3 31 5 5 28 >1 17 13 1 100 464 172
X 2;3-2;6 37 5 5 25 >1 10 18 100 125 193
XI 2;6-2;9 34 10 7 16 >1 20 11 1 100 145 263
XII 2;9-3;0 30 11 9 11 >1 22 16 1 100 7946 286
Total 32 9 7 17 >1 21 13 1 100 3074
FORMATION OF THE VERB SYSTEM IN RUSSIAN CHILDREN
31
The early phase of verb morphology formation ended in Varja (see Table 3a) at about 1;5/1;6, and in Kirill (Table 3b) and in Anja (Table 3c) at about 1;11. Despite the speed at which Varja acquired the basics of the verbal system, I noticed the same trends in all three children. In Varja and Kirill, the period from the appearance of first verbal forms to the coherent consequent temporal system took only a few months. According to Smoczyсska's research on Polish-speaking children, the turning point in formation of verbal morphology in children appears in the period when they build verbal forms on about 50 different stems. The analysis of Russian children supports this thesis. In Kirill, the turning point appeared when the boy used 56 different stems, in Anja probably when she used 57 stems. Varja's case was unlike theirs: the break appeared when the girl had already built verb forms on the basis of 107 stems. This resulted probably from the phrasal strategy she adopted. In Varja's data (Table 3a) from 1;2 the forms of the indicative (present and perfective past), infinitives and imperatives were noted. At the age of 1;2-1;3 imperatives constituted more than half of all noted forms, but the percentage of these forms later decreased. However, the percentage of indicative forms rose systematically: at the end of the early phase, the percentage of present forms was 40%, past forms 14%, future perfective 10%, and future imperfective 4%. In Kirill's early data (Table 3b) verb forms were rare. At 1;8, only a few past forms and infinitives were spotted. In the following month, a high percentage of infinitives was observed (more than 70%). In this month, some imperatives were noted and ­ sporadically ­ present tense forms. Infinitives and imperatives predominated still at 1;10-1;11. At 1;10, the first future perfective form was noted and at 1;11 the first future imperfective. The percentages of various verb forms started to stabilize in the period of 1;11-2;0: the percentage of indicative forms increased to almost 70%, and that of infinitives and imperatives dropped to the level of a dozen or so percent. As regards Anja's data (Table 3c), it is difficult to follow her development at the earliest stage. The data from the period of 1;2-1;10 were very scant, totalling only 60 verb forms. The material at 1;11 was more abundant: a high share of imperatives can be noted here (more than 30%). Present tense forms constitute 17%, future perfective 15%, future imperfective 1% and past tense 26%. Temporal and aspectual forms Child language researchers agree that the child's temporal system is different from that of the adult: they do not agree, however, on the interpretation of this difference. Some claim that the very young child (up to the age of 2;6) using verbal forms does not mark deictic temporal relations, only the aspect. Others claim that the abilities to express particular temporal configurations are acquired gradually with age, in which sense children's temporal system is unlike that of adults. The most influential version of the hypothesis underlying the first standpoint was published in 1976 by Antinucci and Miller and referred to by Richard Weist as the defective tense hypothesis (Weist et al., 1984). Antinucci and Miller analyzed the data of Italian-speaking children and of one English-speaking child. The data were collected at 1;6-2;6. They observed that children used only telic verbs (i.e. describing actions having a clear end point) in the past tense, but static and activity verbs only
32
DOROTA KIEBZAK-MANDERA
Table 4a. Temporal forms in adult's material
PRESENT TENSE 31
PAST TENSE
45
FUTURE TENSE
24
Total
100
N
10397
Table 4b. Temporal forms in Varja's material
PRESENT PAST FUTURE Total N
Early phase 1;2 1;3 1;4 1;5 8 67 61 59 92 22 17 20 0 10 21 21 100 100 100 100 12 49 70 252
VII 1;6-1;8 54 25 21 100 1533
VIII IX
X XI XII Total
1;9-1;1 12;0-2;2 2;3-2;5 2;6-2;8 2;9-2;11
55
48
47
49
46
51
30
34
32
34
31
30
14
18
21
17
23
19
100 100 100 100 100
100
1547 1113 1105 463 831 6975
Table 4c. Temporal forms in Kirill's material
PRESENT PAST FUTURE Total N
Early phase 1;8 1;9 1;10
0 50 85
100
0
8
0 50
8
100 100 100
2
4 13
IX
X
1;11 2;0-2;2 2;3-2;5
60
52
45
8
23
34
32
25
21
100
100
100
98
740
924
XI
XII
2;6-2;8 2;9-2;11
40
47
36
34
24
18
100
100
1334 1252
Total 46 32 22 100 4367
Table 4d. Temporal forms in Anja's material
PRESENT PAST FUTURE Total N
1;11 29 44 27 100 48
IX 2;0-2;2 44 42 13 100 315
X 2;3-2;5 51 36 13 100 90
XI 2;6-2;8 51 25 24 100 971
XII 2;9-2;11 50 18 32 100 568
Total 49 27 24 100 1992
FORMATION OF THE VERB SYSTEM IN RUSSIAN CHILDREN
33
with present tense endings2. Children did not determine the transformation that took place, but only the end state of given objects after it had ended. According to Antinucci and Miller, children at 1;6-2;6 are not able to express abstract temporal relations, which the authors explain within Piaget's theory: past events that have clear-cut or specific effect in the present are easy to comprehend and do not require representations in the mind, it being enough to see them. In early child speech, therefore, only events from the most recent past could be expressed. This thesis is confirmed by some researchers of other languages: Turkish (Aksu-Koз, 1996), English (Bloom, Lifter & Hafitz, 1980), Greek (Stephany, 1981a, 1981b). Slobin (1985) also claims that the child is initially oriented to one of two temporal perspectives: to the perspective of the result or to the perspective of the process. In the early phase of development children with the help of past tense forms express punctual, complete events with the seen effect (result perspective). Non-punctual and incomplete events, on the other hand, receive present tense endings (process perspective). Research on Slavonic languages does not confirm the above results. Weist (1984, 1985, 1986) analyzed the material of Polish children at 1;7-2;2 from tape recordings and experiments. According to Weist, in the early stages there appear temporal forms, children having already developed an abstract conception of time (see Antinucci & Miller, 1976) which can be represented in the language. They are able to describe an event as complete, punctual etc. (from the external perspective) and as incomplete, durative etc. (from the internal perspective). Temporal forms are without doubt used deictically, while aspectual forms express their specific meanings characterizing action time progress. Nevertheless, the fact that children mark tense very early does not mean that their temporal system is the same as for adults. Weist agrees with Smith (1980) that children's abilities to express temporal relations are acquired gradually. At the very beginning, the child's temporal system is limited to two components: speech time and event time3. At 2;6-3;0 reference time becomes an integral part of the whole temporal system in children. Results very similar to Weist's were reached by other psycholinguists. Smoczyсska (1986), in analyzing very abundant corpora of Polish speaking children, did not find any confirmation for Antinucci & Miller's proposition. Russian data collected by Gvozdev (1949) also negate the defective tense hypothesis: at 1;10 he noted examples of using perfective and imperfective forms in the past tense. Later research on Russian language (Kiebzak-Mandera, Smoczyсska, and Protassova, 1997) also confirm children's early ability to mark both tense and aspect. Raduloviж (cf. Weist, 1984), in her data collected on Serbo-Croatian children at the age of 2;0-2;2, also noted imperfective past tense forms. Behrens (1995), who elaborated the material of German-speaking children, disputes Antinucci and Miller's hypothesis as well. My own analyses also negate the above-mentioned hypothesis that children lack an abstract conception of time: 1. From the appearance of the first temporal forms to the emergence of the full adult-like system of temporal-aspectual oppositions it takes only a few months: Varja's system
2 The verb division into static, activity, achievements and accomplishments was done by Vendler (1967). In this paper, following Comrie (1976), achievements and accomplishments are referred to as telic verbs. 3 Reinchenbach's model (1947) was used. He described the following components of the temporal system: speech time, event time and reference time.
34
DOROTA KIEBZAK-MANDERA
became adult-like at 1;5/1;6, and Kirill's and Anja's at about 1;11 (see Tables 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d); 2.In no child's corpus did I find support for the theory of aspect primacy over tense in the early stages. Although in the very early material only perfective verbs had past tense endings, still their semantics was very diversified. Imperfective past forms appeared in Varja's speech at 1;5, in Kirill's at 2;0 and in Anja's at 1;11 ­ hence, much earlier than Antinucci and Miller suggested. All the children used imperfective past forms of activity verbs. (2) VAR 1;7 Vain'ka (=Varen'ka) gujaa (=guljala), 0s mamyj (=mamoj) gujaa (=guljala). Varen'ka:SG:NOM walk:IPFV:PAST:SG:F mama:SG:INS walk:IPFV:PAST:SG:F `Varen'ka was walking, with mommy was walking.' static verbs: (3) VAR 1;7 Nadi ni (=ne) naja (=znala), ni (=ne) naja (=znala). Nadja:GEN:SG no know:IPFV:PAST:SG:F, no know:IPFV:PAST:SG:F. `Did not know Nadja, did not know.' and telic verbs: (4) VAR 1;7 Papa isaal (=risoval) mishku (=mishku). daddy:NOM:SG draw:IPFV:PAST:SG:M bear:SG:ACC `Daddy was drawing a bear.' 3. The analysis of the meanings of imperfective forms made on the basis of Russian classic works (Bondarko, 1971, Grammatika, 1980) demonstrated that Russian children are aware of semantic nuances of particular aspectual forms from the very beginning. 4. It is true that imperfective past verbs appear in children's speech far more seldom than do perfective ones: in no corpus their participation was higher than 1/4 of all the past forms. In the adult's data, however, they were 26%. Thus children's data do not show their special inclination to associate the past with perfectivity, but are a simple reflection of statistical trends in the Russian spoken language. 5. I found no support for the thesis that past endings in the early stages of verbal morphology development are attached only to verbs describing events with results visible in the present. The children talked very early also about remote past events: (5) VAR 1;6 situation: Varja came back from a walk. During the walk she met her friend Rita and phoned from the telephone box: Jita (=Rita) pixadila (=prixodila), Jita (=Rita) 0na gujan'i (=guljan'e), budka, budka, xadii (=xodili), budka. Rita:SG:NOM come:IPFV:PAST:SG:F Rita:SG:NOM walk:SG:LOC, box:SG:NOM, box:SG:NOM `Rita was coming, Rita on the walk, the box, the box (we) were going to the box.'
FORMATION OF THE VERB SYSTEM IN RUSSIAN CHILDREN
35
6. The usages of present tense forms in children's material were also very diversified, and children hardly ever had problems with deictic future tense forms. Still, one should remember that the children used only absolute tense during the period reported. The above-mentioned conclusions were drawn from the analysis of Russian chil- dren's material that had a specific temporal-aspectual system, typical for Slavonic languages. The particular language structure itself may thus be an important factor in influencing and even determining child language acquisition and it should not be expected that the development of the category of tense and aspect in Slavic children will develop in the same way as in English, Italian or Turkish children. Personal forms of the indicative4 As the research showed, adults as well as children mark a speech addressee and addresser in two ways. They use either standard forms of 1:SG and 2:SG or instead of them they use forms of 3:SG, e.g., the mother says to Varja: Varja chego vyp'jot? (`What will Varja drink?'), and after a while: Chego ty vyp'josh'? (`What will you drink?'). In the analyzed material two trends were noted. In the material of Kirill's mother the forms of 3:SG used to mark addressee and addresser were rare and, moreover, used rather on special occasions: when the mother praised her son: Kakoj Kirjusha bol'shoj mal'chik, sam pizhamku nadevaet (`Oh, what a big boy Kirjusha is, he is putting his pyjamas on by
Figure 1. Percentages of 1:sg and 2:sg forms and the 3:sg forms used to mark the speaker and hearer in Kirill's corpus
100
90 80
70
60 SG:1
50
SG:2
SG:3:ZNEUTR. 40
30
20 10
0 1;8
1;9
1;10
1;11 2;0-2;3 2;3-2;6 2;6-2;9 2;9-3;0
4 For the purpose of personal form analysis, data of a second adult, Varja's mother, were used. In her material I identified 3810 verb forms, out of which I analyzed all personal forms of the non-past tenses (1818 forms).
36
DOROTA KIEBZAK-MANDERA
Figure 2. Percentages of 1:sg and 2:sg forms and the 3:sg forms used to mark the speaker and hearer in Kirill's mother's corpus
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
1;2
1;3
1;4
1;5 1;6-1;9 1;9-2;0 2;0-2;3 2;3-2;6 2;6-2;9 2;9-3;0
SG:1 SG:2 SG:3:ZNEUTR.
Figure 3. Percentages of 1:sg and 2:sg forms and the 3:sg forms used to mark the speaker and hearer in Varja's corpus
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
1;2
1;3
1;4
1;5 1;6-1;9 1;9-2;0 2;0-2;3 2;3-2;6 2;6-2;9 2;9-3;0
SG:1 SG:2 SG:3:ZNEUT.
FORMATION OF THE VERB SYSTEM IN RUSSIAN CHILDREN
37
Figure 4. Percentages of 1:sg and 2:sg forms and the 3:sg forms used to mark the speaker and hearer in Varja's mother's corpus
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
1;2
1;3
1;4
1;5 1;6-1;9 1;9-2;0 2;0-2;3 2;3-2;6 2;6-2;9 2;9-3;0
SG:1 SG:2 SG:3:ZNEUTR.
himself.'), when she spoke with authority and forbade something: Esli mama govorit, chto mozhno e~ti jagodki kushat', znachit ix mozhno rvat' i est', a esli nel'zja, to mozhno umeret' (`If the mother says you can eat those berries, it means you can pick them and eat them, and if she says you cannot, then you can die.') etc. The percentage of these forms was low in all the material: within a few per cent, see Figure 1. I noted a similar result in the boy's corpus: the forms of 3:SG used instead of the forms of 1:SG and 2:SG were in the majority of cases used in specific situations. The percentage of these forms did not exceed 10%, see Figure 2. I found completely different results in analyzing Varja's and her mother's data. They both treated the form of 3:SG as one of the normal ways of marking the speaker and hearer. The percentage of these forms was high at the early stages and gradually dropped later, see Figures 3 and 4. The sequence of personal form emergence in Varja's material was the following: the girl first started using verbs in 3:SG (referring to herself and to third persons), then forms of 1:PL. Next in order there appeared 1:SG, 3:PL and 2:SG. The last were forms of 2:PL. In Kirill this sequence was as follows: 1:SG and 3:SG emerged at the same time, the latter first used only when directed to third persons; next were 3:PL, 1:PL and 2:SG. The period from the appearance of first singular past tense forms to the emergence of the full system of gender oppositions took only a few months (in Russian in the past tense the category of person is neutralized: ja pisal `I wrote', ty pisal `you wrote', on pisal `he wrote'). In Varja this period lasted from 1;3 to 1;6 (or 1;7), in Kirill 1;8-2;0, in Anja 1;102;1. Masculine and feminine forms first appeared, and later neutral ones.
38
DOROTA KIEBZAK-MANDERA
Imperative and conditional mood The forms of the imperative are usually noted among the first verb forms used by children. Conditionals are rare in a spoken language, and they appear quite late in children's speech. The emergence of conditional sentences with esli (`if') in children's speech is usually preceded by the emergence of clauses with the conjunction chtoby (`in order to'), see Smoczyсska, 1986. Sentences with chtoby were built by all the children: among them, purpose sentences predominated over object sentences in the whole material: (6) VAR 2;2 A xochu, chtoby u nego byla tjoplen'kaja [OBJ], xochu spinku zakryt', chtoby emu ne bylo xolodno [ADV]. and I want:IPFV:PRES:SG that:COND he:GEN be:IPFV:COND:SG:F warm:NOM:SG:F want:IPFV:PRES:SG:1 back:ACC:SG cover:PFV:INF in+order+to he:DAT not be:IPFV:COND:SG:N cold `I want his back to be warm, I want to cover his back so that he was not cold.' Only Varja made references to hypothetical events, and only very seldom: (7) VAR 2;4 Eshchjo by ona prishla k nam. and if :COND she:NOM come:PFV:COND:SG:F to we:DAT `If she could come to us [it would be nice].' Non-finite forms The majority of infinitives used by children appeared in different modal constructions, i.e. in the function close to that of imperative mood forms: (8) VAR 1;5 A (=na) metja (=mesto) paazit' (=polozhit'), pazjatita (=pozhalujsta). on place:ACC:SG put:PFV:INF please `Please put (it) on the (right) place.' and in constructions with non-personal modal predicatives (nado `one must', nel'zja `it is not allowed', nuzhno `it is necessary', mozhno `one can', nikak `in no way' etc.): (9) VAR 2;1 E~to kak mjachik, ego mozhno vot tak brosat' . it like ball:NOM:SG it:ACC:SG one+can like+this throw:IPFV:INF `it is like a ball, one can throw it like this.' Infinitives in the function of the object were spotted more rarely, e.g.:
FORMATION OF THE VERB SYSTEM IN RUSSIAN CHILDREN
39
(10) VAR 2;0 Mama, xochu k tebe, pomogi gorshok nesti. mama:SG:NOM want:IPFV:PRES:SG:1 to you:DAT help:PFV:IMPER:SG:2 potty:ACC:SG carry:IPFV:INF `Mummy, I want to (have) you, help me carry the potty.' similarly, in the function of adverbs: (11) VAR 1;4 Pit', pojdjom pit'. drink:IPFV:INF go:PFV:FUT:PL:1 drink:IPFV:INF `To drink, let's go to drink.' Participia and verbal nouns are very rare both in children's and adult's speech. In the data, passive past participia were most common; the remaining three other possible types (i.e. participia of the present tense ­ active and passive, and active past participia) were found only in Varja's corpus. This child was also the only one to use verbal nouns. Error analysis There were not many errors found in the children's material. Tense and aspect. As regards tense, I found three erroneous choices of temporal forms in Varja and Kirill, and one in Anja. Once, having been asked in the future tense Varja answered in the past tense. It is possible that the girl recalled the last excursion to the forest and wanted to tell about it, but she did not use the formal means sufficient to express this: (12) VAR 1;10 *MAM: A chto my najdjom v lesu? `and what will we find in the forest?' *VAR: Griby sobirali (instead of: budem+sobirat') . mushroom:ACC:PL collect:IPFV:PAST:PL `We collected (instead of: we will collect) mushrooms.' Kirill, having been asked about a past event, answered using the present tense form. He probably had problems with rightly conjugating the verb drat'sja (`to quarrel'): (13) KIR 2;4 *MAM: Chto ty delal s Dikom ? `What did you do with Dik [a dog]?' *KIR: Dirjosh'sja (instead of: dralsja). `I am quarrelling (instead of: I was quarrelling).' The interpretation of aspectual errors is made difficult due to the phonetic characteristics of a child's speech. In all the children, there were spotted some perfective forms (both past and future) whose phonological realization was different from the adult pat-
40
DOROTA KIEBZAK-MANDERA
tern. The context unambiguously indicated that a prefixed perfective form should be used, while the children used non-prefixed forms, phonologically the same as imperfective ones, e.g. padjot (instead of: napadjot:PFV:FUT:SG:3, `to attack), bit' (instead of: sbit':PFV:INF, `to beat'). The phenomenon of syllable reduction in words and of simplifying consonant clusters is common at the early stages of language development and it has a phonological, and not morphological, character. Therefore, considering these forms as morphologically erroneous is not justified. In Varja, in the past tense, I spotted only two aspectual errors. In the first situation, the context required the perfective form, but the girl used the imperfective one: (14) VAR 1;10 Chto ja sdelala? what I:NOM do:PFV:PAST:SG:F `What did I do?' Nosok snimala (instead of: snjala). sock:ACC:SG take+off:IPFV:PAST:SG:F `I was taking off the sock.' (instead of: I took off the sock) in the second case, the adverb of time celyx polchasa `the whole half an hour' required imperfective form, and not the durative perfective one: (15) VAR 1;11 Ja pokushala celyx polchasa, vidish', vsjo, u menja poluchilos', chto ja pokushala. I eat:PFV:PAST:SG:F whole half+an+hour, see:IPFV:PRES:SG:2, well, I:GEN happen:PFV:PAST:SG:N that I:NOM eat:PFV:PAST:SG:F `I ate for the whole half an hour, you see, well, I happened to eat [for the whole half an hour]' Kirill did not make such errors. Anja, however, used imperfective forms three times instead of perfective ones. Incorrectly used verb forms belong to the non-productive conjugation classes, their paradigms are difficult: this might be the only reason the girl made the errors: (16) ANJ 2;6 Ja daganjala (instead of: dognala) ejo, da? I catch+up:IPFV:PAST:SG:F she:GEN yes? `I was catching up (instead of: caught up) her, wasn't I?' Kirill several times used a definite movement verb in the position where normally an indefinite movement verb should be expected: (17) KIR 2;8 Ja xodil k Diku v gosti i k Natashe, shli (instead of: xodili) k tjote Ire, net, net. I go:IPFV:PAST:SG:M to Dik:SG:DAT to friend:ACC:PL and to Natasha:SG:DAT go:IPFV:PAST:PL to aunt:SG:DAT Ira:SG:DAT, no, no `I went to see Dik and Natasha, we were going (instead of: went) to aunt Ira, no, no.'
FORMATION OF THE VERB SYSTEM IN RUSSIAN CHILDREN
41
I found also some attempts to create periphrastic forms of the future tense for perfective verbs. I spotted 12 such mistakes in Varja; Anja had similar problems as well, but Kirill had none. Here is an example: (18) ANJ 2;6 Mama, ja tebja budu pitesjat' (instead of: prichjosyvat'). mummy:SG:NOM I you:GEN be:AUX:FUT:SG:1 comb:PFV:INF (instead of: be:AUX:FUT:SG:1 comb:IPFV:INF) `Mummy, I am going to comb you' The children, particularly Varja, also had problems with acquiring the rules of using aspectual forms in some types of negative sentences. There are specific interactions between the aspect of infinitives used in modal constructions and between imperatives and negation in Slavonic languages. Some linguists, e.g., Kuиera, 1985 (for the Czech language), Holvoet, 1989 (for the Polish language), explain these interactions in the following way: when the situation is under the hearer's control, there is an imperfective form used after the negation, e.g. ne pishi:IPFV:IMPER:SG:2 karandashom! (`don't write with a pencil'). Usage of the perfective form (ne napishi:PFV:IMPER:SG:2 karandashom!) in such a sense is limited to special contexts. However, when the hearer does not control the action, the perfective form is used after the negation. (19) VAR 2;9 Snimi ochki i nichego ne naden' (instead of: ne nadevaj). take+off:PFV:IMPER:SG:2 glasses:ACC:PL and nothing:GEN no dress: PFV:IMPER:SG:2 (instead of: dress:IPFV:IMPER:SG:2) `Take off the glasses and do not dress anything.' (20) VAR 2;0 *VAR: Daj mne morkovku. give:PFV:IMPER:SG:2 me:DAT carrot:ACC:SG `Give me some carrot' *MAM: Sejchas pochishchu . `I will clean it up at once' *VAR: Tol'ko ne nado po`varit' (instead of: varit'). only no one+must boil:PFV:INF (instead of: boil:IPFV:INF) `But it should not be boiled' Person. In Varja's material I observed on a large scale the phenomenon of exchanging persons, i.e., using forms of 1:SG in order to mark the hearer: (21) VAR 1;5 *MAM: Chto ja derzhu? what I hold:IPFV:PRES:SG:1 `What am I holding' *VAR: Asjaku (=loshadku) dizju (=derzhu). horse:ACC:SG hold:IPFV:PRES:SG:1 `I am holding a horse'
42
DOROTA KIEBZAK-MANDERA
and forms of 2:SG in order to mark a speaker: (22) VAR 1;7 *MAM: Chto ty delaesh' ? what you do:IPFV:PRES:SG:2 `What are you doing?' *VAR: Susais (=slushaesh') tupku (=trubku). listen:IPFV:PRES:SG:2 receiver:ACC:SG `You are listening to the receiver.' This phenomenon is probably connected with the phrasal strategy the girl adopted. The same kind of errors I found also in Anja's material, but with much lower frequency. Gender. Erroneous gender forms in Varja were 1% of all singular past forms, in Kirill ­ 0.5%, in Anja ­ less than 2%. The most frequent error cencerned the use of masculine forms instead of feminine ones: (23) VAR 1;6 Ain'ka (=Varen'ka) kapait (=kopaet), abotyt' (=rabotat') pasjoj (=poshjol) [instead of: poshla].' Varen'ka:SG:NOM dig:IPFV:PRES:SG:3, work:IPFV:INF go:PFV:PAST:SG:M [instead of: go:PFV:PAST:SG:F] `Varen'ka is digging, she has left to work.' and otherwise: (24) VAR 1;5 Nozhik upaja (=upala) [instead of: upal]. knife:NOM:SG fall+down:PFV:PAST:SG:F [instead of: fall+down:PFV:PAST:SG:M] `The knife fell down.' Number. The most common type of errors connected with the category of number was exchanging plural forms with singular ones. All the children made such errors: (25) KIR 2;4 Tam koljosiki lezhit (instead of: lezhat). there wheels:NOM:PL lie:IPFV:PRES:SG:3 [instead of: lie:IPFV:PRES:PL:3] `Wheels are lying there.' Conjugation classes The Russian conjugation system is simple and regular as regards endings, but the acquisition of particular conjugation classes is quite difficult. Errors of class paradigms are the most common in all the children's material. Erroneous forms were in Varja ­ 2;8%, in Kirill ­ 4%, in Anja ­ more than 7% of all verb forms.
FORMATION OF THE VERB SYSTEM IN RUSSIAN CHILDREN
43
In Russian verb forms are built on the basis of two stems: past tense (infinitive) stem and present (future perfective) tense stem. The conjugation classes are determined by relationships between those two stems. I used ­ with some modification ­ the classification of conjugation classes proposed by Grammatika, 1980. The characteristics of productive patterns in Russian is presented below:
class 1. class 2. class 3. class 1.
First conjugation
past tense stem
present tense stem
root ended on vowel: chita-l-a
root + -j-: chita-j-ut
root + -ova-: ris-ova-l-a
root + -uj-: ris-uj-ut
root + -nu-: dvi-nu-l-a
root + -n-: dvi-n-ut
Second conjugation
past tense stem
present tense stem
root ended on -i-: nosi-l-a
root + : nosj-at
All the children, like the adult, used most often verb roots belonging to the productive patterns chitat' (`to read') and nosit' (`to carry'): about 60% of the verb roots used (and heard) by the children belonged to these two patterns. The remaining 40% of roots was divided into the other 34 conjugation groups, whose members were found in the analyzed data. With a frequency higher than 1% there appeared also the roots of the last two productive patterns: risovat' (`to draw') and dvinut' (`to move') as well as of a few non-productive patterns. The children's data were all alike: as an example, I have chosen Kirill's corpus and compared it to his mother's data.
Table 5. The distribution of conjugation classes in Kirill and Kirill's mother
Conjugation classes Pattern chitat' Pattern risovat' Pattern dvinut' Remaining 26 patterns of first conjugation Total first conjugation Pattern nosit' Remaining 2 patterns of second conjugation Total second conjugation Irregular paradigms Total
Kirill
N
%
146
36,0
16
4,0
29
7,1
80
19,7
271
67,0
97
24,0
30
7.3
127
31,3
8
1,7
406
100,0
Kirill's mother
N
%
220
39,8
22
4,0
37
6,7
102
18,4
381
68,9
128
23,1
36
6.5
164
29,7
8
1,4
553
100,0
Shifts on different levels were observed. The most numerous were those to the two productive types: chitat' and nosit'. According to the pattern of chitat' the following forms, among others, were conjugated: isa`vaju (instead of: risuju:IPFV:PRES:SG:1 `I draw'), narisovaj (instead of: narisuj:PFV:IMPER:SG:2 `draw'), plakaet (instead of: plachet:IPFV:PRES:SG:3 `she cries'), tancevaju (instead of: tancuju:IPFV:PRES:SG:1 `I dance').
44
DOROTA KIEBZAK-MANDERA
These shifts can be interpreted in two ways. The first possibility is to assume that these verbs were conjugated according to the pattern of chitat', see the description of conjugation classes above. It is also possible that the children built the forms requiring a present tense stem on the basis of the past tense stem, which means they missed the stems. I rather incline to the first interpretation: it is supported by the fact that most often to the pattern chitat' there were shifted the verbs of the following patterns: risovat' (productive pattern!), iskat' (`to seek') and davat' (`to give'). Infinitives of these verbs resemble the infinitives of verbs belonging to the chitat' pattern. While classifying shifts to the pattern nosit' I neglected those forms which had no stressed ending. It could have only been the reduction of the unstressed vowel, and not the actual shift to this conjugation class, see kusit'+budit (= kushat' + budet: IPFV:FUT:SG:3). In kushat' the root is stressed: phonological realization of kusit' is thus acceptable. It may happen that in some of the forms classified as erroneous, only the stress was shifted from the ending to the root and, at the same time, the vowels were reduced. Nevertheless, it is impossible to verify this assumption: the data I received had already been transcribed. Some examples: privi`zil (instead of: privjazal:PFV:PAST:SG:M `I tied'), ukolil (instead of: ukolol:PFV:PAST:SG:M `I stung'), ispe`chila (instead of: ispekla:PFV:PAST:SG:F `I baked'). Shifts to the remaining two productive patterns were much more seldom: to the pattern of risovat': pridevaetsja (instead of: pridelyvaetsja:IPFV:PRES:SG:3 `it is being done'), vtaskavaet (instead of: vtaskivaet:IPFV:PRES:SG:3 `he pushes in') and to the pattern of dvinut': ljagnul (instead of: ljog:PFV:PAST:SG:M `he lay down'), umernut (instead of: umrut:PFV:FUT:PL:3 `they will die'). The children also used the present tense stem in building forms requiring the past tense stem: idjol (instead of: shjol:IPFV:PAST:SG:M `he went'), priceplila (instead of: pricepila:PFV:PAST:SG:F `she fixed') and otherwise. Imperfective forms built on the perfective stems were also noted: ulazhivaet (instead of: ukladaet:IPFV:PRES:SG:3 `he puts in order'), razvjazhivaj (instead of: razvjazyvaj:IPFV:IMPER:SG:2 `untie'). The equalizations within the paradigms of one verb were also quite often: pasadu (instead of: posazhu:PFV:FUT:SG:1 `I will sit sth.'), uxadu (instead of: uxozhu:IPFV:PRES:SG:1 `I leave'). Forms with unnecessary consonant alternations were spotted too: zovlju (instead of: zovu:IPFV:PRES:SG:1 `I call'), zazhglila (instead of: zazhgla:PFV:PAST:SG:F `I burnt') etc. Summary The process of forming the verb system in Russian children takes very little time: after the early phase of system formation, which takes a few months, children's material becomes comparable with adults' language. Before children end the third year of life, all the verb categories in Russian should be considered as acquired. Errors are rare, and the most common ones regard conjugations of particular verb classes. Our children's data were abundant and varied ­ both formally and lexically. Varja built verb forms on the basis of 495 different stems, Kirill ­ 406, Anja ­ 286. To compare, in the material of Kirill's mother 555 verb stems were noted. In Table 6 below the frequencies of verb forms are presented for the whole corpora of the children and the adult.
FORMATION OF THE VERB SYSTEM IN RUSSIAN CHILDREN
45
Table 6. Percentages of verb forms in the children's and adult's corpora
PRAESENS FUT. PFV. FUT. IPFV. PRAETERIT. CONDITION. IMPERATIV. INFINITIVUS PARTICIPIA NOM. VERB. Total N
Varja 37 9 4 21 1 10 17 1 >1 100 9763
Kirill 35 11 4 22 1 13 13 2 - 100 6340
Anja 32 9 7 17 >1 21 13 >1 - 100 3074
Kirill's mother 32 11 6 22 >1 14 13 1 >1 100 14689
The percentages of verb forms in the corpora of Varja, Kirill5 and Kirill's mother were either the same or very close: both for the adult and children, the present and past tense forms are the most frequent. The future perfective tense, imperatives and infinitives are also common. Imperfective future forms are rare: only a small per cent in each corpus. The remaining verb categories, i.e., conditionals, participia and verbal nouns, occur only occasionally or not at all. It is difficult to avoid the impression that the structure of the language of a three-year-old child is practically the same as that of the spoken language the child hears. References Aksu-Koз, A. (1996). The emergence of tense-aspect morphology in Turkish. Paper presented at the 7th International Congress for the Study of Child Language, Istanbul, July 14-19, 1996. Antinucci, F. & Miller, R. (1976). How children talk about what happened. Journal of Child Language, 3, 167-189. Behrens, H. (1995). The grammaticization of temporal concepts in language development. Draft prepared for the conference Language Acquisition and Development: the Interface between Semantics and Conceptual Development, Nijmegen. Bloom, L., Lifter, K., & Hafitz, J. (1980). Semantics of verbs and the development of verb inflection in child language. Language, 56, 386-412. Bondarko, A. V. (1971). Vid i vremja russkogo glagola.Znachenie i upotreblenie. Posobie dlja studentov. Moskva. Comrie, B. (1976). Aspect. An introduction to the study of verbal aspect and related problems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Grammatika (1980). Fonetika. Fonologija. Udarenie. Intonacija. Slovoobrazovanie. Morfologija. Vol. 1, Moskva: Izdatel'stvo Nauka.
5 The frequencies in Anja's material are a little different from the above-presented results. The reason may be in the small amount of data available.
46
DOROTA KIEBZAK-MANDERA
Gvozdev, A.N. (1949). Formirovanie u rebjonka grammaticheskogo stroja russkogo jazyka (volumes 1 and 2). Moskva: Izdatel'stvo Akademii Pedagogicheskix Nauk RSFSR. Holvoet, A. (1989). Aspekt a modalnooeж w jкzyku polskim (na tle ogуlnosіowiaсskim) [Aspect and modality in the Polish language (on the background of Slavic languages)]. Prace Slawistyczne, 77. Wrocіaw: Polska Akademia Nauk. Kiebzak-Mandera, D., Smoczyсska, M., & Protassova, E.N. (1997). Acquisition of Russian verb morphology: the early stages. In W. U. Dressler (Ed.), Studies in Pre- and Proto-morphology (pp. 101-114). Wien: Verlag der Цsterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Kiebzak-Mandera, D. (1999). Ksztaіtowanie siк systemu werbalnego u dzieci rosyjskojкzycznych: analiza porуwnawcza (Formation of the verb system in Russian children: a comparative study). Unpublished PhD Thesis. Jagiellonian University, Krakуw. Kuиera, H. (1985). Aspect in negative imperatives. In M.S. Flier & A. Timberlake (Eds.) The scope of Slavic aspect. Columbus, Ohio: Slavica. MacWhinney, B. (1991). The CHILDES Project: Tools for analysing talk. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Pine, J.N. & Lieven, E.V.M. (1993). Reanalysing rote-learned phrases: INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES in the transition to multi-word speech. Journal of Child Language, 20, 551571. Reinchebach, H. (1947). Elements of symbolic logic. Berkeley: University of California Press. Slobin, D. I. (1985) Crosslinguistic evidence for the language-making capacity In D.I. Slobin (Ed.), The crosslinguistic study of language acquisition. Vol. 2.: Theoretical issues. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Smith, C. S. (1980). The acquisition of time talk: relations between child and adult grammars. Journal of Child Language, 7, 263-278. Smoczyсska M. (1986). The acquisition of Polish. In D.I. Slobin (Ed.), The crosslinguistic study of language acquisition. vol.1: The data. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Stephany, U. (1981a). Development of reference to past situations in Greek child language. Draft. Max-Planck Workshop. Stephany, U. (1981b). Perfective and imperfective aspect in Greek child language. Draft. Max-Planck Workshop. Vendler, Z. (1967). Verbs and time. In Z. Vendler (Ed.), Linguistics in philosophy. Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press. Weist, R. M., Wysocka, H., Witkowska-Stadnik, K., Buczowska, E., & Konieczna, E. (1984). The defective tense hypothesis: on the emergence of tense and aspect in child Polish. Journal of Child Language, 11, 347-374. Weist, R. & Konieczna, E. (1985). Affix processing strategies and linguistic system. Journal of Child Language, 12, 27-35 Weist, R. M. (1986). Tense and aspect: temporal systems in child language. In P. Fletcher & M. Garman (Eds.), Language acquisition: studies in first language development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

D Kiebzak

File: formation-of-the-verb-system-in-russian-children.pdf
Title: 02-kiebzak.PMD
Author: D Kiebzak
Author: user
Published: Thu Mar 26 19:27:46 2009
Pages: 20
File size: 0.19 Mb


INTRODUCING CHILDREN TO, 3 pages, 0.13 Mb

Folk music, 7 pages, 0.14 Mb

Heart to Heart♥, 42 pages, 1.03 Mb
Copyright © 2018 doc.uments.com