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The acquisition of polysynthetic languages

Kelly, B., Wigglesworth, G., Nordlinger, R., & Blythe, J. (2014). The acquisition of polysynthetic languages. Language and Linguistics Compass, 8, 51-64. doi:10.1111/lnc3.12062.
One of the major challenges in acquiring a language is being able to use morphology as an adult would, and thus, a considerable amount of acquisition research has focused on morphological production and comprehension. Most of this research, however, has focused on the acquisition of morphology in isolating languages, or languages (such as English) with limited inflectional morphology. The nature of the learning task is different, and potentially more challenging, when the child is learning a polysynthetic language – a language in which words are highly morphologically complex, expressing in a single word what in English takes a multi-word clause. To date, there has been no cross-linguistic survey of how children approach this puzzle and learn polysynthetic languages. This paper aims to provide such a survey, including a discussion of some of the general findings in the literature regarding the acquisition of polysynthetic systems
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The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

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