Examination of the locus of positional effects on children’s production of plural –s

considerations from local and global speech planning

Rachel M. Theodore*, Katherine Demuth, Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Prosodic and articulatory factors influence children’s production of inflectional morphemes. For example, plural –s is produced more reliably in utterancefinal compared to utterance-medial position (i.e., the positional effect), which has been attributed to the increased planning time in utterance-final position. In previous investigations of plural –s, utterance-medial plurals were followed by a stop consonant (e.g., dogs bark), inducing high articulatory complexity. We examined whether the positional effect would be observed if the utterance-medial context were simplified to a following vowel. 

Method: An elicited imitation task was used to collect productions of plural nouns from 2-year-old children. Nouns were elicited utterance-medially and utterancefinally, with the medial plural followed by either a stressed or an unstressed vowel. Acoustic analysis was used to identify evidence of morpheme production. 

Results: The positional effect was absent when the morpheme was followed by a vowel (e.g., dogs eat). However, it returned when the vowel-initial word contained 2 syllables (e.g., dogs arrive), suggesting that the increased processing load in the latter condition negated the facilitative effect of the easy articulatory context. 

Conclusions: Children’s productions of grammatical morphemes reflect a rich interaction between emerging levels of linguistic competence, raising considerations for diagnosis and rehabilitation of language disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)946-953
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Examination of the locus of positional effects on children’s production of plural –s: considerations from local and global speech planning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Projects

    Neural and behavioural evidence for children's learning of grammatical morphology

    Demuth, K., PhD Contribution (ARC), P. C. (., PhD Contribution (ARC) 2, P. C. (. 2., MQRES, M., MQRES (International), M. (., MQRES 3 (International), M. 3. & Holt, R.

    29/06/14 → …

    Project: Research

  • Cite this