[Author Login]
Title:Multiple Parallel Grammars in the Acquisition of Stress in Greek L1
Authors:Marina Tzakosta
Comment:LOT Dissertation Series 93
Abstract:This dissertation focuses on the acquisition of stress in Greek L1. It investigates phonological development in a language with a lexical accent system where the position of stress is determined by the phonology-morphology interface. It demonstrates that the acquisition of stress in lexical accent systems proceeds differently compared to languages with less complex or non-lexical accentual systems.
The production of multiple truncated outputs of variable prosodic shape as well as faithfully produced forms during the same phases of phonological development led to the conclusion that children employ multiple parallel grammars generated by the permutation of universal and innate constraints, or else follow several developmental paths, during the acquisition process. This implies that language development does not proceed in a strictly stage-like fashion as was assumed until now.

It is argued that learning proceeds in three major phases. In the first phase, the child grammar is in a state where all markedness constraints dominate all faithfulness constraints. This is the initial ranking proposed by Tesar and Smolensky (2000). Given this initial ranking, we have an explanation as to how children proceed from unmarked and, consequently, easy to produce forms to more marked and difficult structures.

During the second developmental phase, constraint permutation results in a radical expansion of grammars. Constraint permutation provides a huge number of grammars. In language acquisition, all possible rankings predict all possible developmental paths children follow in their task of acquiring the phonology of their language. However, the Greek data showed that during the second major learning phase children adopt only 30 grammars out of a total of (!) grammars that permutation of the 15 constraints provides. Moreover, not all children followed all of these 30 grammars; Rather, they employ grammars which are related to the first state of acquisition where MARKEDNESS >> FAITHFULNESS and the final state where roughly FAITHFULNESS >> MARKEDNESS. The fully faithful or adult grammar is also available to the child during this second phase where multiple grammars are generated, since it is one of the grammars provided by factorial typology. In the same phase and depending on the order of acquisition, grammars can be activated and deactivated in parallel. More specifically, if learning proceeds without regressive steps, the number of accessed grammars may decrease gradually, leading to the use of only one grammar, that is, the fully faithful adult grammar. However, if regressions to earlier stages of development do occur, then grammars may be activated and deactivated in parallel during this second phase of development. This is possible until positive evidence and frequency effects of child-directed speech leads the child to the adoption of the �correct� final grammar. Both of these distinct developmental patterns characterize the phonological development of Greek children.

In the third phase of phonological development, Greek children are considered to have reached the final state of the adult grammar.
In the current study, I also deviate from the traditional definition of stage in L1 acquisition (Fikkert 1994a; Demuth and Fee 1995) that views stages as developmental phases, which exhibit a unified linguistic behavior on the children�s part. I assume that a stage refers to a phase in language acquisition associated with a set of grammars that share specific typological characteristics. This redefinition of the notion of �stage� leaves room for the occurrence of variation and regression. Output variation further challenges the idea of the trochaic bias according to which there is a universal tendency for disyllabic trochees in child speech cross-linguistically.

The multiple parallel grammars model developed here refers to production but has important implications, on the one hand, for perception, since it makes the prediction that the latter may be characterized by multiple grammars as well and, on the other hand, for the study of synchrony and diachrony, given that it can provide a unified account of synchronic, diachronic and language change phenomena.
Area/Keywords:Language Acquisition, Phonology
Article:Version 1