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Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies

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Problems in the acquisition of Noun Class 11 among Xhosa children

Tessa Dowling, Derek Gowlett

Abstract


While there has been research on the partial or complete merger of Noun Classes 5 and 11 in a number of Bantu languages, no study has focused specifically on the acquisition of Cl. 11 by Xhosa-speaking children. In this paper we test our hypothesis that Xhosa-speaking children in both urban and rural areas no longer, or very seldom, use Cl. 11 prefixes. We use a number of speechprompting methods: eliciting responses to pictures, story-telling activities and family questionnaires, as well as observations of parent/child and carer/child interactions. We conclude that Xhosa children have internalised a grammar in which both Cl. 11 and Cl. 5 prefixes are acceptable for Cl. 11 Xhosa nouns, with Cl. 5 prefixes and concords being preferred.




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