Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 September 2008
The development of plurals in two German-speaking children was analysed, based on observational data. It was found that (1) plurals were supplied in 90% of the obligatory contexts somewhere between Stage IV and Stage V; (2) plurals were not functionally distinguished from singulars, occurring also in singular contexts; (3) the predominant morphological deviations were of the type in which an additional plural marker was attached to an already correct plural; (4) referring to a single object or event, formally correct plural utterances were often constructed, partly because of as yet unestablished verb conjugation rules. It was argued that the children were learning plurals by rote, conditioned by morphological complexity which cannot be subsumed under any general rule.
This study was supported by a grant (No. 1.131–0.74) from the Swiss National Science Foundation. Part of the data was presented at the 3rd International PsycholinguisticsConference, Salzburg, 1976. Author's address: Psychologisches Institut, Universität Bern, Forschungsabteilung, Sennweg 2, 3012 Bern, Switzerland.