A Critical Review of the Morpheme Order Studies: The State of the Art
Idigoras Corporan, Lorea
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The purpose of this paper is to make a critical review of the history of the so-called morpheme order studies. First of all, a brief contextualisation of the morpheme order studies is presented at the time when the linguistic field shifted from behaviourist to innatist theories; put differently, from Structural Linguistics to Generative Linguistics. The morpheme order studies not only contributed as evidence in favour of innatist theories but also had an impact on the formulation of the Natural Order Hypothesis, which was proposed by Krashen in the late 70’s and the early 80’s. Thereafter, the paper sheds some light on the morpheme order studies, which are divided into two sections. On the one hand, the early stages of the morpheme order studies in which the papers of three pioneer researchers in the area of the first language (L1) are commented; Roger Brown, de Villiers and de Villiers. A more detailed examination on second language (L2) acquisition research follows this section in which relevant researchers such as Dulay and Burt proposed a “universal” order among L2 learners of English. On the other hand, as some investigations claimed that not all L2 learners follow the same consistent order, the paper takes into consideration some factors, also known as the multiple-determinant approach, that influence the order of L2 English morphemes. Furthermore, this research discusses the criticisms that the morpheme order studies have been subjected to and the influence they have had in the construction of teaching materials. The paper concludes with a revision of the factors that affect the acquisition order in L2, which show how there are many factors which influence the acquisition of L2 English morpheme order.