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Article acquisition: Theoretical and empirical issues

Garton, A.F. (1984) Article acquisition: Theoretical and empirical issues. Language Sciences, 6 (1). pp. 81-91.

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Two theoretical approaches to the study of the acquisition of the determiners, including the articles, in English can be identified. The definite and indefinite articles (the and a) are usually regarded as a contrastive system. Either form is required with a noun, depending on certain semantic and pragmatic considerations. However, both historical and recent developmental psycholinguistic evidence suggest that the articles should be incorporated into a total system of determination. These approaches have influenced the interpretation of research into children's use and understanding of the articles. The contrastive approach considers the acquisition process as one of attaining adult usage, and experimentally, the articles produced by children can be correct or incorrect. The functional approach considers all article forms elicited in an experiment, and discusses why such forms were used and the functions they fulfill. An experiment is described to show 3-year-old children's use of the articles within specific contexts. It argued that instead of regarding the child's use of the and a as correct or incorrect with respect to appropriate adult use, we should look at the functions of those determiners used by the young child, particularly those that are dependent on the linguistic input.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Elsevier Limited
Copyright: © 1984 The International Christian University Language Sciences Summer Institute.
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