An investigation of the morpho-syntactic abilities of Afrikaans-speaking preschoolers

Southwood F. (2006)


A lack of standardised assessment instruments for use with Afrikaans-speaking children compels those who need to assess their expressive morpho-syntactic abilities to either devise their own informal assessment tools or make use of spontaneous language samples. However, to interpret the results of these, normative data on the language development of Afrikaans-speaking children are needed. At present, no such data are available on the morphosyntactic abilities of Afrikaans-speaking children. The present study aimed at gathering such data. Eight typically-developing monolingual children (one boy and one girl of three, four, five and six years) from Afrikaans-speaking homes participated. Tasks were administered to assess comprehension and production of grammatical features related to number, person, case and tense as well as questions forms, binding relations and passive constructions. Increased correct responses with increased age were observed for genitive case and tense comprehension, simple wh-question production, comprehension and production of binding relations, and comprehension of passive constructions, but not for number comprehension and production, person and case comprehension and production on pronouns, tense production, comprehension of question forms, and production of passive constructions. The results indicate that the morpho-syntactic abilities of Afrikaans-speaking six-year-olds do not yet resemble those of adult speakers of the language; the implication is that, in Afrikaans, morpho-syntactic development continues after the age of 6. Copyright © 2006 NISC Pty Ltd.

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