An Optimality Analysis of the Morphophonemic Development of Triconsonantal Verbs of Normal Jordanian Speaking Children

Majd S. Abushunar, Radwan S. Mahadin


This study carries out an analysis using the framework of Optimality Theory to investigate the acquisition of the morphophonemics of JA triconsonantal verbs. The analyzed data consist of speech samples obtained from a picture/action naming task as well as spontaneous speech collection. The sample of the study consists of 64 normally developing children who are acquiring spoken Jordanian Arabic as their mother tongue. The participants whose ages range from 2;1 to 6 years are selected randomly from different preschools in two Jordanian cities. The major findings of the study suggest that children overcome the morphological complexity of Arabic verbs by applying a number of processes, including: cluster simplification, glottalization, and truncation. The OT analysis indicates that these processes are associated with highly-ranked markedness constraints and lower-ranked faithfulness constraints in child grammar. In addition, the root/affix asymmetry triggers unmarked patterns to emerge in the affix. Finally, the results display that children’s morphophonological abilities improve with age and that the majority of children’s morphophonological processes disappear at age six years.

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