Acoustic investigations of the syllabic -es plural in 2-year-olds’ speech: a preliminary investigation

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Children have been found to acquire /-əz/ plurals (e.g. noses) later than /s,z/ plurals (e.g. cats, dogs) (Brown, 1973). This study explores why there is delayed acquisition of the syllabic -es plural and whether word length or segmental factors are involved. We conducted an elicited imitation task involving eight target items, half with a disyllabic root (e.g. letter  letters), and half with a monosyllabic root (e.g. bus  buses). Children saw pictures of the items on a computer and repeated pre-recorded three-word-utterances with the target both utterance-medial and utterance-final. Acoustic analysis was used to determine the presence or absence of the plural morpheme. Preliminary results from two children show that they have more trouble producing the syllabic -es morpheme, especially when the target word is in utterance-medial position. This suggests articulatory difficulties with the two consecutive fricatives especially when there is less time for the child to perceive/produce the word without phrase-final lengthening.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-84
Number of pages16
JournalMacquarie Matrix: undergraduate research journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • speech acoustics
  • child language acquisition
  • syllabic plurals


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