Native Language Acquisition
Native language, which is also commonly referred to as mother tongue or first language, refers to the language that a person acquires during the critical period or from birth. In some countries, native language is defined as the ethnic language of a group which serves as the first language of the people that belong to that particular social organization. Native language acquisition has proved challenging for many scholars including Chomsky and Piaget. The knowledge contained in the rich literature produced by scholars in this area has been helpful when conducting experiments or making a hypothesis. Unfortunately, some areas relating to the acquisition of native language have not been studied in depth and therefore a lot of information is still unavailable. One such area is punctuation.
Markov, Nastase, and Strapparava (2018), note that the impact of punctuation has not been studied in detail. According to them, punctuation is important in sentences because it reveals certain crucial aspects of written communication. For example, it creates sense and gives them clarity. Additionally, it is helpful when laying stress or emphasis (Markov et al., 2018). From an early stage, first language learners are taught how to use various punctuation marks so as to properly structure their writing.Native Language Acquisition
The use of punctuation marks plays a crucial role in developing a native language. Usually, it is unique to a given language and it explicitly influences the manner in which information is organized and conveyed. Phuket and Othman (2015) argue that punctuation is one of the most difficult and challenging skills that native language learners have to acquire. It is, therefore, not surprising that most English first language (EFL) learners tend to make numerous errors in their writing. For teachers to effectively assist them to acquire the language, it is vital that the analysis of the errors and their cause is undertaken. However, it should be remembered that these errors play an important role because they mark the process of language development. Corder (1967) supports this view by pointing out that errors such as in punctuation help researchers to study the process of native language acquisition.
The main punctuation marks that have been found to be problematic among native language learners include the use of full stop, comma, semi-colon, colon, and apostrophe. Many EFL learners find punctuation as challenging and confusing. According to Alamin and Ahmed (2012), such students fail to apply commas when constructing new sentences from either simple or compound ones. The authors also provide examples to show the failure of students to use a semi-colon when combining sentences. When writing compound sentences, they are also unlikely to use a coordinating conjunction. Instead, they tend to use an adverb. Finally, it is common to see native language learners write long sentences that lack a period in the end. As such, most of their sentences do not start with a capital letter.
Phuket and Othma (2015) have studied native language acquisition in great depth. They note that most punctuation errors occur among first language learners as a result of the ineffective learning traits. They include the wrong application of punctuation rules. In other cases, students may be unaware of the existing rules that restrict certain form of punctuation. The authors broadly classify these errors as “intra-lingual errors”. They are as a result of the insufficient acquisition of knowledge about rules that govern a learner’s native language. But as they gain more experience in its use, such developmental errors become less common. Therefore, errors of punctuation can be attributed to learners’ incomplete knowledge of their native language.
In conclusion, punctuation is a major source of errors that learners make when learning their native language. However, punctuation is also problematic to all writers: both second and first language learners. Due to its importance in writing and facilitating effective and clear communication, teachers have to put in extra effort to ensure that their students become proficient in this area. To achieve this, knowledge about punctuation errors including their source, becomes vital.Native Language Acquisition
Alamin, A., & Ahmed, S. (2012). Syntactical and punctuation errors: An analysis of technical writing of university students Science College, Taif University, KSA. English Language Teaching, 5(5), 2.
Corder, S. P. (1967). The significance of learner’s errors. IRAL-International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 5(1-4), 161-170.
Markov, I., Nastase, V., & Strapparava, C. (2018). Punctuation as native language interference. In Proceedings of the 27th Internat
Phuket, P. R. N., & Othman, N. B. (2015). Understanding EFL Students’ Errors in Writing. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(32), 99-106.