Cross-linguistic influences on first language acquisition of olutachoni lexicon
Mandillah, Lucy K. L.
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The study sought to identify lexical borrowing and describe the nature of lexical borrowing among the 2-7 year old children acquiring Olutachoni as their first language. The study also investigated and established the correlations between the age and gender of the children and the degree of lexical borrowing. The role of the linguistic environment to the acquisition of Olutachoni as a L1 was also investigated. The Usage- Based Acquisition Theory, Levelt’s Theory of Speech Production and the Unitary Language System Hypothesis were used to explain the role of the external and the internal mechanisms behind language acquisition. For a comparative analysis, data was collected from children in the mixed language family set up (Olutachoni-Olubukusu) and the single language family set up (Olutachoni-Olutachoni). This was meant to establish if cross linguistic influences from the mothers’ language (in this case Olubukusu) had any influence on the acquisition of Olutachoni. The study adopted a time-lag strategy design and a triangulation approach to collect and analyze data. Twelve children were purposively sampled from twelve homes through the social network approach. Unstructured interviews and observation schedules were used to collect and audio- record utterances from the 12 children. A contrastive and comparative analysis of the cases of lexical borrowing from the mixed language family set up and the single language family set up was done. Spearman’s Rank Correlation Coefficient was used to measure the relationship between the age and gender of the children and the degree of lexical borrowing. The results were presented in the form of frequency tables and figures which were followed with explanations. The findings of the study revealed that there were cases of cross linguistic influences from Olubukusu and Kiswahili among the 2-7 year old children acquiring Olutachoni as a First language. The two main strategies of lexical borrowing which were manifested among the children were lexical inventions and lexical importation. The influences occurred among the children from both the mixed and the single language family set ups although at varying degrees. Lexical importation was manifested through loan words and loan adaptation strategies whereas prefixation was employed as the main word formation process during lexical invention. Children from the mixed language family set up recorded a higher percentage of lexical borrowing compared to those from the single language family set up. There was a strong negative correlation between the age and gender of the children and the degree of lexical borrowing. Also, the linguistic environment had an effect on the production of lexical borrowing during child language acquisition. It was recommended that other cross linguistic influence studies in other African languages be conducted in order to promote the development and use of indigenous languages as per Chapter 2 section 7(3b) of the 2010 Kenyan Constitution. Furthemore, parents, teachers and psychologists should view lexical borrowing arising from CLIs as a strategy towards language learning but not as forms of interference