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Plurals in child speech*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2008

Tschang-Zin Park
Affiliation:
Universität Bern

Abstract

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.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1978

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Footnotes

[*]

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.

References

Anisfeld, M. & Tucker, G. R. (1973). English pluralization rules of six-year-old children. In Ferguson, C. A. & Slobin, D. I. (eds), Studies of child language development. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Google Scholar
Berko, J. (1958). The child's learning of English morphology. Word 14. 150–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brown, R. (1973). A first language: the early stages. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cazden, C. B. (1973). The acquisition of noun and verb inflections. In Ferguson, C. A. & Slobin, D. I. (eds), Studies of child language development. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Google Scholar
Ervin, S. M. (1964). Imitation and structural change in children's language. In Lenneberg, E. H. (ed.), New directions in the study of language. Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T.Google Scholar
MacWhinney, B. (1975). Rules, rote and analogy in morphological formations by Hungarian children. JChLang 2. 6577.Google Scholar
Park, T. Z. (1971). The acquisition of German morphology. Working paper, Psychologisches Institut, Universität Bern.Google Scholar
Slobin, D. I. (1973). Cognitive prerequisites for the development of grammar. In Ferguson, C. A. & Slobin, D. I. (eds), Studies of child language development. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Google Scholar
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