chapter  10
20 Pages

Literacy Acquisition in Spanish

ByJavier S. Sainz

The form of a language is the means of expressing a series of conceptual, cognitive, or mental categories and relationships in terms of which we conceive the world described by the language. Underlying human natural languages is a universal event grammar, or tectogrammar, that ensures the intertranslatability of languages. Nonetheless, the implementation of this universal grammar, the phenogrammar, is specific to each language, and thus there are different alternatives for describing experience and assigning meaning to linguistic expressions (Moreno, 1994a). Hawkins (1983) shows that the structural order of linguistic expressions, or configurationality (Jelinek, 1984; Maracz & Muyksen, 1989), obeys a complex conditional structure organized around the two basic universal cognitive linguistic categories-event-verb and entity-object-and the manner in which they are conceptually related. Within this conditional structure, a solution is adopted by each language in response to a particular aspect of

The Spanish Language as a Linguistic Type The principle that organizes linguistic discourse is verb-object cohesion (Tomlin, 1986, p. 74). The preverbal or postverbal object position is an iconic expression of the representation of the semantic relationship established between verb and object. A cross-linguistic comparison of European languages reveals structural similarities and differences relevant to the study of the computational complexity of linguistic processing (Bechert, Bernini and Buridant, 1990; Giv6n, 1990). If we turn to the manner in which linguistic components occur or are concatenated in the chain of discourse, languages can be classified according to the order of components into free-word-order languages and closed-word-order languages (Comrie, 1981/1989; Siewierska, 1988). Languages with a free arrangement of their components are morphologically complex when compared with the closed-word-order languages, which are morphologically simple and dependent on the relative position assumed by the components in the chain of discourse. In free-word-order languages, such as Spanish-as opposed to English-the dependency relationships of components in discourse are primarily represented by the morphological relationships between components at the syntagmatic and syntactic levels. The phonetic differentiation between lexeme and morpheme correlates with polysyllabism and monosyllabism (Skalicka, 193511979). In inflective languages, the morphemes are generally monosyllabic and lexemes polysyllabic; as for agglutinant languages, there is a greater proportion of monosyllabic lexemes. In Spanish, as an inflective language, we can observe a clear syllabic differentiation between lexemes and morphemes and a notable differentiation between nouns and verbs.