Some Yoruba Developmental Linguistic Errors and their Structural Imports

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Ilọri, J.F.
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Child language errors are not errors in the real sense of the term but manifestations of developmental stages of language acquisition of the child. Given the systematic and rule-governed nature of such errors in a manner comparable to those usually found in the performances of adult foreign/second language learners/users, such errors not only present interesting feedbacks on the linguistic development of the child (i.e. showing what the child has acquired successfully and what he is yet to acquire given his age and aptitude) but also provide useful insights on the linguistic structure of the language concerned and how such is acquired. This paper examines some linguistic developmental errors in the speech forms of a native-Yoruba child when he was between the ages of 4 and 6. As evident in the data, strings of Yoruba-English code-mixing were very minimal as the child’s exposure to English prior to and during the study period was relatively minimal. However, the fact that the child had been exposed to more than two dialects of Yoruba namely Ò ̣yó ̣-Ibadan Yoruba, Standard Yoruba, and Ò ̣kà/Ìkàré ̣-Àkókó Yoruba is evident in the structural forms and types of errors manifested. Findings show a conglomeration of syntactic, semantic, and phonological errors some of which are actually traceable to influences from English and those other dialects of Yoruba to which the child had been exposed. The study concludes that the noted error types manifested (namely substitution, omission, and contradiction) are purely developmental in nature, which implies that the subject’s brain as at the period of study was yet to develop the capability to handle the complexity of the constructions involved. The study has far reaching theoretical and practical implications and application for Yoruba as second/foreign language programmes in terms of material development and management of learner errors.
Scholarly article
Ilori, J. F. 2018. ‘Some Yoruba Developmental Linguistic Errors and their Structural Imports’ Ifè̩ Journal of Languages and Literatures, Volume 4 Number 1 pages 51-64. Department of Linguistics and African Languages, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ifẹ.

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