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On the question of derivation in the children’s speech

Liberal Arts in Russia. 2021. Vol. 10. No. 2. Pp. 99-110.
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Tseitlin S.
Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia
48 Moika Embankment, 191186 St. Petersburg, Russia


The author of the article studies derivational innovations produced by Russian-speaking pre-school children aged 2-6 years. The data for the analysis was provided by the Foundation of the Children’s Speech Data of the Laboratory of Children’s Speech (St. Petersburg, Herzen State Pedagogical University). The author compared derivational and inflectional innovations and found out that innovative word forms constructed by different children often coincide (*iskayu ’I look for’, *voz’mit’ ’to take’, *poros’onki ’piggies’, *plokheye ’worse/*badder’), while new words produced by children to not usually tend to coincide (*balovan’ye ’the pampering’, *bol’nota ’pain’, *razbudit’s’a ’to be awaken’, *vgasit’ ’to re-turn off’). The reason lies in the fact that the number of inflection models is very limited compared to the high variety of derivation models and uncountable range of potentially productive words. The author regards children’s innovations as constructs allowed by the language system but absent in the usual speech that fill absolute and relative gaps in the language. Derivational innovations fill relative gaps. Comparing them to their usual counterparts, it was found out that children’s derivatives are more transparent in the morphological sense, as both producing and produced words are similar in the place of the stress and the alternation of the forms. This proves that children construct new words on the basis of the most general, prototypical rules. This is the reason why children’s innovations (not only derivational, but also inflectional ones, which are also highly transparent) provide valuable data for the linguistic study, which allows us to discover the hierarchical structure of procedural rules. The author separately analyzed cases of filling absolute gaps, as they are individual and depend on many subjective and objective factors.


  • • derivation
  • • inflection
  • • derivative
  • • relative gap
  • • absolute gap
  • • language rule


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