Preschoolers’ developing comprehension of the plural: the effects of number and allomorphic variation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Previous intermodal preferential looking (IPL) studies have found that children learning English acquire knowledge of plural allomorphs incrementally. The segmental plural /-s/ (e.g., cats) is understood at 24 months of age, whereas the syllabic plural /-əz/ (e.g., buses) is not comprehended until 36 months. Production studies also show ongoing challenges with the syllabic plural /-əz/, suggesting a prolonged weaker representation for this allomorph. IPL studies also suggest that children do not understand the singular, which has no overt marking, until 36 months of age. However, the status of children's developing representations of the singular has been largely unstudied. The current study, therefore explored 116 3- and 4-year-olds’ developing comprehension of novel singular and plural words, where the plurals were inflected with segmental and syllabic plural allomorphs. Results found that children were equally proficient at identifying novel plurals of both allomorph types, increasing accuracy with age. However, children's accuracy with novel singulars did not increase with age, raising questions about the representation of null morphology. Children's equal accuracy across plural allomorphs is more consistent with rule-based models of morphological representation than those proposing morphology as an emergent property of the lexicon. However, neither model completely accounts for the developmental differences found between singular and plural.

LanguageEnglish
Pages95-108
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume185
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019

Fingerprint

Motor Vehicles
Cats
Learning

Cite this

@article{4aff31ef27d54085990740ae56ebda18,
title = "Preschoolers’ developing comprehension of the plural: the effects of number and allomorphic variation",
abstract = "Previous intermodal preferential looking (IPL) studies have found that children learning English acquire knowledge of plural allomorphs incrementally. The segmental plural /-s/ (e.g., cats) is understood at 24 months of age, whereas the syllabic plural /-əz/ (e.g., buses) is not comprehended until 36 months. Production studies also show ongoing challenges with the syllabic plural /-əz/, suggesting a prolonged weaker representation for this allomorph. IPL studies also suggest that children do not understand the singular, which has no overt marking, until 36 months of age. However, the status of children's developing representations of the singular has been largely unstudied. The current study, therefore explored 116 3- and 4-year-olds’ developing comprehension of novel singular and plural words, where the plurals were inflected with segmental and syllabic plural allomorphs. Results found that children were equally proficient at identifying novel plurals of both allomorph types, increasing accuracy with age. However, children's accuracy with novel singulars did not increase with age, raising questions about the representation of null morphology. Children's equal accuracy across plural allomorphs is more consistent with rule-based models of morphological representation than those proposing morphology as an emergent property of the lexicon. However, neither model completely accounts for the developmental differences found between singular and plural.",
keywords = "morphology, syntax, language acquisition, speech perception",
author = "Benjamin Davies and {Xu Rattanasone}, Nan and Tamara Schembri and Katherine Demuth",
year = "2019",
month = "9",
doi = "10.1016/j.jecp.2019.04.015",
language = "English",
volume = "185",
pages = "95--108",
journal = "Journal of Experimental Child Psychology",
issn = "0022-0965",
publisher = "EXCERPTA MEDICA INC-ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC",

}

Preschoolers’ developing comprehension of the plural : the effects of number and allomorphic variation. / Davies, Benjamin; Xu Rattanasone, Nan; Schembri, Tamara; Demuth, Katherine.

In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Vol. 185, 09.2019, p. 95-108.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Preschoolers’ developing comprehension of the plural

T2 - Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

AU - Davies,Benjamin

AU - Xu Rattanasone,Nan

AU - Schembri,Tamara

AU - Demuth,Katherine

PY - 2019/9

Y1 - 2019/9

N2 - Previous intermodal preferential looking (IPL) studies have found that children learning English acquire knowledge of plural allomorphs incrementally. The segmental plural /-s/ (e.g., cats) is understood at 24 months of age, whereas the syllabic plural /-əz/ (e.g., buses) is not comprehended until 36 months. Production studies also show ongoing challenges with the syllabic plural /-əz/, suggesting a prolonged weaker representation for this allomorph. IPL studies also suggest that children do not understand the singular, which has no overt marking, until 36 months of age. However, the status of children's developing representations of the singular has been largely unstudied. The current study, therefore explored 116 3- and 4-year-olds’ developing comprehension of novel singular and plural words, where the plurals were inflected with segmental and syllabic plural allomorphs. Results found that children were equally proficient at identifying novel plurals of both allomorph types, increasing accuracy with age. However, children's accuracy with novel singulars did not increase with age, raising questions about the representation of null morphology. Children's equal accuracy across plural allomorphs is more consistent with rule-based models of morphological representation than those proposing morphology as an emergent property of the lexicon. However, neither model completely accounts for the developmental differences found between singular and plural.

AB - Previous intermodal preferential looking (IPL) studies have found that children learning English acquire knowledge of plural allomorphs incrementally. The segmental plural /-s/ (e.g., cats) is understood at 24 months of age, whereas the syllabic plural /-əz/ (e.g., buses) is not comprehended until 36 months. Production studies also show ongoing challenges with the syllabic plural /-əz/, suggesting a prolonged weaker representation for this allomorph. IPL studies also suggest that children do not understand the singular, which has no overt marking, until 36 months of age. However, the status of children's developing representations of the singular has been largely unstudied. The current study, therefore explored 116 3- and 4-year-olds’ developing comprehension of novel singular and plural words, where the plurals were inflected with segmental and syllabic plural allomorphs. Results found that children were equally proficient at identifying novel plurals of both allomorph types, increasing accuracy with age. However, children's accuracy with novel singulars did not increase with age, raising questions about the representation of null morphology. Children's equal accuracy across plural allomorphs is more consistent with rule-based models of morphological representation than those proposing morphology as an emergent property of the lexicon. However, neither model completely accounts for the developmental differences found between singular and plural.

KW - morphology

KW - syntax

KW - language acquisition

KW - speech perception

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85065907392&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://purl.org/au-research/grants/arc/CE110001021

UR - http://purl.org/au-research/grants/arc/FL130100014

U2 - 10.1016/j.jecp.2019.04.015

DO - 10.1016/j.jecp.2019.04.015

M3 - Article

VL - 185

SP - 95

EP - 108

JO - Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

JF - Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

SN - 0022-0965

ER -