Verb inflection in Fuad’s narratives
We remarked previously that target-like verb inflection is not productive in files 1 and 2. As we can glean from the overview provided in Figure 4.15 (see also Table E.4 in Appendix E), the proportion of errors in these two first files is relatively high, amounting to 68.4%, with a predominance of an erroneous choice of nonfinite forms, although other erroneous forms are also common. Further, verb drop in files 1 and 2 occurs frequently, with a proportion of 34.5 and 45.7% respectively. As of file 3 the overall picture changes slightly as the percentage of errors decreases to 39.1, with a proportion of 34.9% in file 5. This is still a relatively high rate; however, it belongs to the lowest rates found in our corpus for file 5 narratives (only Hamida and Maria produce a lower error rate at that time).
Main verb inflection is productive as of file 3 but is not applied across the board. We noted previously that Fuad produces constructions with periphrastic verb forms early on, but that many errors result from remaining gaps in the knowledge of the target rules for participle formation. Errors in file 4 include the erroneous choice of participles in the place of infinitives in constructions with modal verbs (cf. (576)), or the drop of the auxiliary (see example (577)). (578) is an interesting case of a blend of two modal verb constructions. (560) shows the correct use of a plural modal verb in a construction with conjoined subjects in file 4 (only the umlaut is missing) (recall that example (564) mentioned above documents the correct choice of a main verb infinitive with this modal verb).
Fuad’s errors in file 4 indicate that participle formation is rule-based with respect to the use of the prefix ge-, but lacking specific information regarding the formation of participles of individual lexical items. As a consequence, some forms produced at this stage are correct (compare (561)), whereas others are not (compare (562)). Variation might also pertain to the same verb, as is the case of erschrecken (‘to frighten’) in file 4. The form erschreck in (563), close to the target erschreckt, contrasts with the erroneous usage of the prefix ge- in (564)). Target- deviant word order in constructions with modal verbs, as we can see in example (565), might be an effect of the use of the preposition auf to case mark the object. Finally, while subject-verb agreement marking in constructions with conjoined subjects continue to pose a problem, the repaired sequence in (566) might be taken as an indication of Fuad’s awareness of the plural verb form that needs to be chosen in this context.
Figure 4.15: Verb inflection errors and verb drop in Fuad’s narratives.