Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE credits
The aim of this study is to identify the order in which adult learners of Finnish as a second language acquire nominal and verbal inflectional morphemes. The study is based on studies of acquisition orders found in the acquisition of English as a second language, commonly referred to as the Morpheme Studies. The baseline assumption is that the acquisition order found in the language of second language learners is the result of internal processes that govern the acquisition of inflection. These processes are assumed to be universal and therefore they result in a natural, fixed order that is uninfluenced by other factors, such as a learner’s native language or formal language teaching.
The research material consists of the written production of three groups of learners, representing starter, intermediate and advanced levels of proficiency. In order to rank morphemes, accuracy scores were calculated for each one using the method of obligatory occasion analysis.
The result of the study shows that there is an acquisition order for groups of morphemes. Regarding nominal inflection it was found that learners acquire static locative cases first, then dynamic locatives, and finally grammatical cases. The order for verbal inflection was less clear, which was ascribed to insufficient data. Results indicate that third person present and past tense and third person negation are all acquired roughly around the same time. Finally, it was concluded that some irregularities in the acquisition orders can be ascribed to native language influence, suggesting that native language plays a larger and more complicated role than has been assumed.