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Normative L1 Arabic Verb Acquisition Order in Jordanian Children
A common practice in the development of curricula and assessment for English as a second or foreign language uses the long-established normative sequence of morphosyntactic acquisition in first language (L1) learners to structure the scope and sequence for teaching of second language (L2) learners. However, less than two dozen studies exist regarding the acquisition of Arabic as a first language, and have been mostly in the field of speech language pathology, which is nascent in the Arab countries, and hampered by the dearth of linguistic research establishing norms of Arabic language acquisition. Nothing has been published since Omar (1973) on the question: In what relative order do toddlers acquiring Levantine colloquial Arabic begin to produce the components (morphemes) of verbs and verb-like structures that account for tense, gender, number and aspect? At approximately what age do these morphemes emerge? Existing studies have focused on normal and disordered phonological acquisition (Amayreh, 2003; Habib, 2014; Maamoun, 2016), in bilingual children (Paradis et al., 2021), in Gulf Arabic dialects (Ntelitheos & Idrissi, n.d.; Rakhlin et al., 2021), and in narrative markers (Rakhlin et al., 2020), lexical growth (Salama & Alansary, 2017), and semantics (Abd-Elmoneim et al., 2023). However, no studies of normative verb and verb-like morphological acquisition in the Levantine dialects, which include Jordanian, seem to have been published, and only one data set of Levantine child speech (in this case, Palestinian) is publicly available in the TalkBank CHILDES database (Nazzal, 2021). This study records monolingual Jordanian children aged 18 to 30 months interacting with their caregivers and the investigator during the summer of 2024, including both spontaneous production and response to audiovisual prompts focused on eliciting verb production. Verbs and verb-like structures (e.g. “to have” is not a verb in Arabic, but functions syntactically like a verb in sentences) are identified and a descriptive quantitative analysis looks for patterns of sequence and correlation to the ages of the children regarding their use of verbs and verb-like structures. Findings will provide an initial direction for research leading eventually to the establishment of a normative order of morpheme acquisition that could form the foundation for more effective Arabic as a Foreign Language curricula and assessment, and also contribute to establishing acquisition norms for the nascent Arab field of speech language pathology.
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Arab States
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