Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Dr. John Colarusso
The intent of this thesis is to identify the lexical, syntactic/inflectional and phonological features of East Cree Baby Talk (henceforth BT) as a way of understanding how children acquire the highly complex standard adult (SA) forms. I demonstrate that the early linguistic features are universal and that significant variation among languages occurs subsequent to the BT stage.
As a result of comparative analysis I am able to conclude:
1. East Cree BT exemplifies universal features of BT;
2. The acquisition of BT represents a level of generalized language learning;
3. Language learning is hierarchical;
4. As languages develop, they diverge and give rise to the greatly varied SA surface structures;
5. The occasional variation that occurs in BT registers can be explained in terms of the salient or difficult features of the target language;
6. BT universals are generally absolute, non-implicational and substantive;
7. Absolute, non-implicational and substantive universals precede statistical, implicational and formal universals;
8. The deep structure of SA speech is similar to BT and, in a sense, develops out of it. Thus, deep structures are cognitively concrete while SA surface structures are cognitively abstract.
For three of the comparative languages used in this study I depend upon secondary data. Due to the problems encountered, I suggest steps to improve methodology in the recording, presentation and analysis of BT material.
Jones, Linda M., "Cree Baby Talk and Universal Baby Talk" (1988). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1987.