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Academic Paper


Title: Knowing more than one can say: The early regular plural
Author: Jennifer A. Zapf
Institution: University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Author: Linda B. Smith
Institution: Indiana University Bloomington
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Abstract: This paper reports on partial knowledge in two-year-old children's learning of the regular English plural. In Experiments 1 and 2, children were presented with one kind and its label and then were either presented with two of that same kind (A→AA) or the initial picture next to a very different thing (A→AB). The children in A→AA rarely produced the plural. The children in A→AB supplied the singular form of A but children in A→AA did not. Experiment 3 compared the performance of English-speaking and Japanese-speaking children in A→AA with common and novel nouns. The Japanese-speaking children (learning a language without a mandatory plural) supplied the singular form of A but the English-speaking children did not. The findings indicate young children learning English know there is a plural to be learned they have fully worked out the rules of production or acquired the necessary singular–plural pairs for broad generalization.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 36, Issue 5, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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