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Title: An implicational Hierarchy of Morpheme Acquisition Order in second Language Learning
Author(s): WEI, Longxing
Journal: ITL - International Journal of Applied Linguistics
Volume: 139    Date: 2003   
Pages: 77-100
DOI: 10.2143/ITL.139.0.2003199

Abstract :
Unlike most early second language morpheme acquisition studies which remained at a surface descriptive level, this paper provides the reasons for the natural morpheme acquisition order by characterizing morphemes based on how they are projected from the mental lexicon. Three types of morphemes are identified based on how they are activated: Morphemes directly elected at the lemma level are content morphemes, morphemes indirectly elected together with content morpheme heads are early system morphemes, and morphemes structurally assigned at the functional level are late system morphemes. It argues that the levels of morpheme activation, whether at the lemma level or at the functional level, determines the acquisition order. Based on the characterization of morphemes and the natural second language data, an implicational hierarchy of morpheme acquisition order in second language learning is proposed: content morphemes are acquired before system morphemes, and early system morphemes are acquired before late system morphemes. Unlike early second language morpheme acquisition order studies, this study not only identifies or describes the morpheme order itself but also provides some reasons for this order.

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