The system for combining units of meaning

  • Morpheme: the smallest unit of meaning in a language
    • Free morphemes can occur alone
    • Bound morphemes cannot
  • Order of acquisition of phonemes (Brown 1973)
    • Morphemes come in in a consistent order (within a language)
    • The order is predicted based on a variety of factors, including the salience and consistency of form-meaning mapping
    • Same factors can predict differences between languages (in languages with more salient affixes and consistent form-meaning mappings children learn the morphology earlier)
  • The U-shaped curve
    1. Rote memorization (child stores the forms they hear) – higher accuracy
    2. Rule acquired and over-applied – lower accuracy
    3. Rule acquired but children also know there are exceptions – higher accuracy