Acquisition of the Co-operative Principle by Algerian Arabic-Speaking Children

Zerouali Amina, Jihad Hamdan


In the realm of language acquisition due attention was given to some linguistic areas like phonology and syntax probably at the expense of others such as pragmatics. The aim of this paper is to explore the age at which Algerian Arabic-speaking preschoolers acquire the maxims of the Cooperative Principle developed by Grice (1975), and the order in which these maxims are acquired. Data were elicited from 36 children between the ages of 3 and 5 years who were required to make acceptability judgment of statements uttered in a puppet video-show to indicate their adherence to or violation of the Cooperative Principle. The results of the study have shown that the Cooperative Principle emerged in preschoolers at the age of 3 years where they were able to identify the Cooperative Principle violation. However, their performance improved with age. The results have also demonstrated that preschoolers acquire the maxim of relevance first, followed by the maxim of quality, the maxim of manner and finally the maxim of quantity.

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