This series of Thursday’s Theory stems from the research undertaken by Greer & Rivera-Valdes, 2012: Multiple Exemplar Instruction and the Emergence of Generative Production of Suffixes as Autoclitic Frames.
So, what are suffixes and autoclitics?
A suffix is just a complicated word for something very simple: a word ending! It is a group of letters that you can add to the end of a ‘root word’. For example, ‘stand-ing’ and ‘helpful’.
A ‘root word’ stands on its own as a word, but you can make new words from it by adding
Prefixes (the beginnings of words) and/or suffixes (the endings of words).
For example, ‘happy’ is a root word. By adding the prefix ‘un’ you can make the new words
‘unhappy’ which has the opposite meaning.
As well as altering the meaning of a word, they can also show how a word will be used in a sentence and what part of speech that word belongs to. For example, the noun or the verb. If you wanted to use the word ‘talk’ in a sentence, “I was (talk) to Annabelle”, then you would add the suffix -ing so that the word ‘talk’ so as it makes better sense grammatically: “I was talking to Annabelle”.
There are various suffixes, but the most common are probably -ed and -ing.
Can you see how difficult conversation, relationships and work could be if you didn’t understand the complexity of the suffix? It is not necessary to teach our children the ‘rules’ so as they can be repeated back to us, but it is necessary to teach our children to naturally use the correct suffixes when they speak.
An autoclitic is a verbal response which modifies the effect on the listener of the primary operants that comprise B.F. Skinner's classification of Verbal Behaviour. If you would like to know more about the operants of language, just search our website and you will find lots of information.
So an autoclitic is a verbal behaviour that modifies the functions of other verbal behaviours. For example, "I think it is raining" possesses the autoclitic "I think," which moderates the strength of the statement "it is raining." It is an entirely different sentence to, “it is raining” or, “I have been told it will rain”. Again, can you imagine the negative consequences which may follow and the utter confusion for somebody who does not understand this nuance of language?
There are four types of autoclitic:
- Descriptive autoclitics
- Quantifying autoclitics
- Qualifying autoclitics
- Relational autoclitics
But that is definitely for another Thursday’s theory series!
Next week we will discuss how a child’s language should develop, so as you can watch out for if you need to take action. The faster you intervene, the smaller the gap there is to close and the more likely you will be in preventing a more serious delay or disorder from developing.