The Acquisition of Negation in Najdi Arabic
Binturki, Turki Abdullah S.
University of Kansas
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This investigation follows the development of negation of a Najdi speaking child. Previous negation studies have treated negation as one unit (NEG) regardless of its form in the adult language (no and not). This investigation provides a syntactic account of negation in Najdi in light of previous Arabic studies (Benmamoun 2000). It is argued in this study that verbal and non-verbal negation is captured by the same syntactic analysis. Both the affirmative and negative sentences of an adult and a child were evaluated and negation markers in verbal (la and ma) and non-verbal (muhub) sentences were examined. The data is analyzed by examining six contexts of negation: discourse, imperative, existential, declarative interrogative and non-verbal predicate negation. Qualitative and quantitative methods were applied to assess the development of negation in Najdi. The results of the study have significant implications for the Continuity Hypothesis (Pinker 1984). The Continuity Hypothesis proposes that children and adults share the same types of grammatical elements and rules. Results of the study show that the subject made clear distinctions between verbal and non-verbal negation markers. The data also show that Najdi children demonstrate the linguistic ability to correctly produce negation in six different contexts. The results of the study support a discontinuous approach to language acquisition for the non-verbal (muhub) negation sentences. At the same, the results support continuity in the discourse and imperative contexts (la). Only partial support for continuity is shown for ma production in declarative, existential and interrogative contexts. In addition, this research took into consideration whether the input frequency has an effect on the child's productions. This study shows that input is not the driving factor for the early production of negative markers as usage based studies suggest (Cameron-Faulkner, Lieven, & Theakston 2007).
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