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Early metalinguistic awareness of derivational morphology: Observations from a comparison of English and French

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 2009

University of Dundee
Université de Lille 3
Université de Provence
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Lynne G. Duncan, School of Psychology, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 4HN, Scotland, UK. E-mail:


This cross-linguistic comparison of metalinguistic development in French and English examines early ability to manipulate derivational suffixes in oral language games as a function of chronological age, receptive vocabulary, and year of schooling. Data from judgment and production tasks are presented for children aged between 5 and 8 years in their first, second, or third school year in the United Kingdom and France. The results suggest that metamorphological development is accelerated in French relative to English. The French advantage encompasses knowledge of a broader range of suffixes and a markedly greater facility for generalizing morphological knowledge to novel contexts. These findings are interpreted in relation to the word formation systems of English and French, and the educational context in each country.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

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