The Acquisition Of Verbal Morphology In Japanese As A Second Language (JSL) By A Child: Emergence And Accuracy

Document Type

Journal Article




Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Communications and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications




Iwasaki, J. , & Oliver, R. (2014). The acquisition of verbal morphology in Japanese as a second language (JSL) by a child: Emergence and accuracy. Studies in Language Sciences: the Journal of the Japanese Society for Language Science, 13(2014), 70-95.


Debate continues about what should be regarded as an “acquisition point” in Second Language Acquisition (SLA): Should it be at emergence or when target-like (TL) performance occurs? In this longitudinal study about a naturalistic child learner of Japanese as a second language (JSL), acquisition of verbal morphemes is considered both at the point of emergence and at the level of rule application. Informed by Pienemann’s (1998) Processability Theory (PT), Pallotti’s (2007) stringent cr iteria of appearance in four contexts has been applied equally to overused and to correct TL morphemes to determine emergence. The informant in this study was a seven-year-old English speaking child whose parents are Australian. Conversations between the child and other speakers of Japanese were audio recorded over a period of 21 months (26 sessions). Analysis was undertaken on 5,446 verbal morphemes and the point of emergence of 12 verbal morphemes identified with respect to rule application. The results suggest that, while some verbal morphemes were supplied at a near TL or TL level at the time of emergence, others were not. In particular, the morpheme -te was supplied in a non- target-like form and yet its use also indicated emergence, suggesting that accuracy-based analysis by itself is insufficient.

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