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Home arrow Language & Literature arrow Bilingualism and Deafness: On Language Contact in the Bilingual Acquisition of Sign Language and Written Language
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Verb inflection in Maria’s narratives

As we can see in Figure 4.12 the rate of verb inflection errors in Maria’s narratives drops from 48.2% in file 1 to 11.6% in file 5. This is a notable development compared with the error rates observed in the narratives of the other participants. Among the errors produced, the choice of infinitive forms represents a rather random phenomenon (2.3% in file 5). Recall, in addition, that constructions with verb drop only occur twice in file 1 (3.5%). Further, and in contrast to other participants in this study, Maria correctly chooses the 3rd person plural verb form for conjoined subjects (see examples (529)-(531)). Maria’s editings in (531) and (532) are indicative of her awareness about the verb form that needs to be chosen (although she forgets to delete the 3s marker -t). The examples provided are also remarkable regarding the use of the plural pronoun sie (‘they’) and subject ellipsis in conjoined clauses (see (529)). Example (530) illustrates the target-like use of the phrasal verb aufwachen (‘wake up’).

As we remarked upon previously, errors in the domain of verb inflection result from the choice of an incorrect or a default form, with occasional variation between the target-like and the target-deviant form in the same narrative (or even sequence). The few errors produced in file 4, for example, result from a repeated production of the default form heifie (used to introduce the three main characters of the story) instead of the target form heifit (‘is called’). The only other default -e verb form produced in file 4, that is, schaue (cf. (533)) indicates that the erroneous default forms still belong to Maria’s repertoire, through probably with the status of a vestigial remnant of an earlier grammar. Notice that both this form, that is, schaue and the target-like form schaut (‘looks’), appear in the context of the complex sequence in (533). Finally, example (534) shows that the acquisition of the target paradigm of the verb mogen (‘want to’) remains to be tackled.

 
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