Acquisition of Affixes. Investigating the Acquisition of Affixes by a Four-Year-Old Girl


Research Paper (postgraduate), 2014
11 Pages

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Investigating the Acquisition of Affixes by a Four-Year-Old Girl

Abstract

This paper tries to investigate the acquisition of Indonesian language affixes by a four-year-old girl. Using an exploratory design, this research, which spent two months period of observation, reveals that object of the study has not only acquired the simple affixes (combination of prefix and suffix) but also started showing her potency of producing the complex ones (the combination of prefix, infix, and suffix). However, the production of such coma

plex affixes (the combination of prefix, infix, and suffix) can not be automatically categorized as the acquired ones due to their rare occurrences. It is suggested that the next similar research to be applied to other four years old girls for generalization purpose.

(Key words: affixes, acquisition, four-year-old girl)

1. Introduction

The study on second language acquisition (henceforth SLA) has been widely carried out by many researchers in which their emphases differ from one another. The large study on SLA might result from the complexity of study area of the SLA itself which has then led to the appearance of numerous theoretical foundations of how a language is acquired.

This paper tries to investigate the acquisition of Indonesia language as a second language, focusing on the acquisition of affixes by a four-year-old girl. Although there have been a number of similar studies but mostly were not specific to four-year-old girl. In other words, the study on the acquisition of Indonesian language affixes carried out specific to a four-year-old girl is still rarely conducted.

One of the studies that could be best shown here is by Raja (2003). However, his focus was to investigate early morphological development of Indonesian children of various ages. In his study, the acquisition of affixes by those children was highlighted.

For this reason, the writer wanted to conduct similar study, but with different object that was a four-year-old girl. Two-month-intensive observation was conducted in order to support the data needed for this study.

2. Aims of the Study

This study aims to:

1. To investigate types of affixes produced by a four-year-old girl.
2. To investigate whether such production of affixes can be categorized as the acquired ones.

3. Research Questions

In line with the objectives stated above, two questions will be addressed:

1. What types of affixes are produced by a four-year-old girl?
2. Can the production of such affixes automatically be categorized as the acquired ones?

4. Literature Review

4.I. Syntactic development

The syntactic development of children grows in line with their age. According to Yule (1986), there are several stages of a child’s syntax development:

a. Pre-language stage. This stage takes place from three to ten months. During this period, there are a lot of ‘sound play’ and attempted imitations.
b. The one-word or holophrastic stage. Holophrastic is a single form functioning as phrase or sentence. This stage happens between twelve and eighteen moths. Single terms uttered are usually related to everyday objects such as ‘milk’, ‘cookie’, ‘cat’, and ‘cup’.
c. The two-word stage. Around eighteen to twenty months, as the child’s vocabulary moves beyond fifty distinct words, they can produce two separate words.
d. Telegraphic speech. It occurs from two years and up. A child at this stage starts producing a large number of utterances, which could be classified as multiple world utterances. While this type is being produced, a number of grammatical inflections begin to appear in some of words.

In addition, Crystal (1976) added that by the time the child is three years old and up, he or she is going further than telegraphic speech forms and integrate some of inflectional morphemes, which signify the grammatical function and the nouns and verbs used. This acquisition of this form is often accompanied by a process of generalization. Therefore, imitation is not the primary force in child language acquisition

4.2. Morphemes

There are two basic types of morphemes: unbound and bound. Unbound or free-standing morphemes are individual elements that can stand alone within a sentence, such as <cat>, <laugh>, <look>, and <box>. They are essentially what most of us call words. Bound morphemes are meaning-bearing units of language or called affix, including prefixes and suffixes that are attached to unbound morphemes. These cannot stand alone (Yule, 1986).

The meaningful combination of morphology is called a morphological construction of which can be built by several means like affixation and reduplication.

4.2.1. Morphological acquisition

In learning a language, children generally focus on the simple aspects of language instead of the complex ones. Miller (in Raja, 2003) in his theory of Derivational Complexity said that the extent of derivation which has to be passed on by a child determines the sequence of the child’s sentence production.

There are two learning that determine the sequence of a child’s sentence production: system learning and item learning (Ellis, 1997). System learning refers to learning separate and discrete items of language. When a learner has learnt the underlying rules of linguistic item but fails to use them, it can be said the learner makes a mistake. On the contrary, deviation in usage due to lack of knowledge of the underlying rules of linguistic item, the learner cannot be said of making mistake but error. Usually, to distinguish whether it is a mistake or an error can be done by asking the learner to correct his or her deviant utterances (Ellis, 1997).

4.2.2. Affixation

Affixation is the morphological process whereby grammatical or lexical information is added to a stem (Crystal, 1980). There are three types of affixation: prefix, suffix, and infix. According to Tata Bahasa Baku Bahasa Indonesia (2000), the rules of affixation in Indonesian language are given below:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

5. Methodology

The study took place at the writer’s home. The writer made his own daughter named Wiya as the object for his research. Wiya was four-years old when this research was carried out. In order to gain and collect the data needed for his research, the writer investigated all affixes produced by the object when she was communicating with her little brother, her mother, and her father (the writer himself). This process took place about two months long before then all the data were interpreted qualitatively.

6. Findings and Discussion

Based on the research that spent about two months long, the writer has found variety of affixes produced by Wiya. Each type of the affixes is presented in several tables as follow:

Table 1

illustration not visible in this excerpt

The table above shows that Wiya has been able to produce affixes. However, type of affixes produced was simple and so limited in number. There were only prefix di and prefix ter that were found.

The first prefix produced was di which was the most frequently produced by Wiya. This type of suffix was uttered as many as eight times. She seemed to have the ability to combine such prefix with other words. This means that Wiya has acquired that type of affix. Larsen-Freeman and Long (1991) said that that a bound morpheme, which in this case is the prefix di, is regarded ‘acquired’ when a child has produced it with three different free forms. The table shows that prefix di appeared many times or more than three times. So, it can be concluded that the production of prefix di is categorized or regarded ‘acquired’.

In the meantime, the prefix ter appeared one time only. Its occurrence was never heard again. Therefore, this type of affix could not be categorized as the acquired as required by Laesen-Freeman and Long.

Table 2

illustration not visible in this excerpt

The affixes shown in the second table above are another type of suffix combination produced. The table shows that Wiya has shown her capability in producing complex affixes i.e. the combination of prefix di- and suffix -in. This time, such complex affixes were all stated in informal utterances. However, it can be said that she has acquired those types of affixes. The reason is, in line with Larsen-Freeman and Long (1991), she was able to combine the prefix di- and suffix –in three or more different free forms.

It seemed that Wiya’s acquisition of bound morphemes at his age starts to develop and increase. This finding is in line with a research by Patuan Raja (2003) saying that number of child’s vocalizations containing bound morphemes generally increase from three up to four years, while vocabulary acquisition experiences remarkable decrease.

Table 3

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Similarly, the utterances listed in Table 3 also contain two affixes. However, in the table, the combination of prefix meng- and suffix –kan were produced or uttered in formal language.

The table shows that Wiya has shown her linguistic potential development as indicated by her successful combination of such prefixes and suffixes. What can be described about Wiya is that at her age, the capability in lexicalizing words has developed. Mostly, the lexicalization capability happened in the words which are categorized as having high intensity or the words which are frequently used in daily communication.

However, word lexicalization produced is not always correct. The table above shows Wiya’s incorrect use of “menggambarkan”. “Menggambarkan” in that utterance should be “menggabar”. However, Wiya was successful in combining the prefix and suffix although not constructed correctly. This phenomenon seems to be much in line with Patuan Raja (2003) saying that children in developing their morphology might create their own bound forms only before a period of successful utilization. It also can be said that she has acquired those types of affixes since Wiya has been able to produce it more than three different free forms.

Table 4

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Table 5

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The utterances described in tables 4 and 5 above might be the most important finding in this research. Types of affixes produced by Wiya were different as compared to affixes presented in the previous tables.

The two tables above show that there are three types of affixes combined by Wiya. The first is the combination of prefix meng plus infix per plus suffix i. The second is the combination of prefix meng plus infix per plus suffix kan. However, the appearance of such complex combination of affixes was quite rare to happen. There were no any similar combinations of such affixes found during this observation. Therefore, the utterances of memperkenalkan and memperbaiki can not be regarded ‘the acquired’.

They are not acquired because Wiya did not produce such affixes in other forms. Larsen-Freeman and Long (1991) said that that a bound morpheme, which in this case is combination of prefix meng - plus infix - per- plus suffix -i and the combination of prefix meng - plus infix - per- plus suffix –kan, is regarded ‘acquired’ when it is produced in three different free forms.

6. Conclusion and Suggestion

Based on the findings presented above, it could be concluded that the obvious acquisition of affixes has already taken place by age of four years. At this age, type of affixes produced was not only limited to the simple form but also the production of complex combination of affixes.

However, the production of complex combination of affixes by the object in this study can not be automatically said as the acquired ones. This is because that the production of such complex affixes only happened one time when this study was carried out. As Larsen-Freeman and Long (1991) said that that a bound morpheme, which in this case is combination of prefix plus infix plus suffix, is regarded ‘acquired’ when it is produced in three different free forms. It is assumed that there must be a factor that has led the object to produce such non-acquired complex combination of affixes. Despite not ‘acquired’, what it may be taken into account is that this study at least shows that a four year old child already has the potency to acquire complex affixes.

To conclude this paper, the writer suggests that similar studies involving more objects are necessary to be carried out because any child’s language development inevitably reflects universal, language-specific, and idiosyncratic characteristics. Secondly, it should be investigated further whether other children do have a tendency and potential to create complex combination of affixes.

7. References

Crystal, D. (1993). Introduction to Language Pathology. London: Whurr Publishers. Third edition.

Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudaan RI. (1992). Tata Bahasa Baku Bahasa Indonesia. Thid ed. Jakarta: Perum Balai Pustaka, 1992.

Ellis, R. (1997). Second Language Acquisition. London: Oxford University Press.

Larsen-Freeman, D., and Long, M. H. 1991. An Introduction to Second Language Acquisition Research. London: Longman.

Macaulay, Ronald. (1980). Generally speaking: How children learn language. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

Raja, P. (2003). Early Morphological Development of Indonesian Children, retrieved from http://sastra.um.ac.id, as current as December 27, 2014.

Yule, G. (1986). The Study of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

11 of 11 pages

Details

Title
Acquisition of Affixes. Investigating the Acquisition of Affixes by a Four-Year-Old Girl
Course
Language teaching
Author
Year
2014
Pages
11
Catalog Number
V339201
ISBN (Book)
9783668291065
File size
470 KB
Language
English
Notes
This paper has been presented in a national seminar held at the campus of Ibn Khaldun University Bogor Indonesia
Tags
affixes, affixacquisition, language acquisition
Quote paper
Muhammad Shabir (Author), 2014, Acquisition of Affixes. Investigating the Acquisition of Affixes by a Four-Year-Old Girl, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/339201

Comments

  • guest on 9/18/2016

    a good work! t should be
    investigated further whether other children do have a tendency and potential to create
    complex combination of affixes

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