ERIC Number: EJ1032425
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Jul
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
Infinitives or Bare Stems? Are English-Speaking Children Defaulting to the Highest-Frequency Form?
Räsänen, Sanna H. M.; Ambridge, Ben; Pine, Julian M.
Journal of Child Language, v41 n4 p756-779 Jul 2014
Young English-speaking children often produce utterances with missing 3sg -s (e.g., *He play). Since the mid 1990s, such errors have tended to be treated as Optional Infinitive (OI) errors, in which the verb is a non-finite form (e.g., Wexler, 1998; Legate & Yang, 2007). The present article reports the results of a cross-sectional elicited-production study with 22 children (aged 3;1-4;1), which investigated the possibility that at least some apparent OI errors reflect a process of defaulting to the form with the highest frequency in the input. Across 48 verbs, a significant negative correlation was observed between the proportion of "bare" vs. 3sg -s forms in a representative input corpus and the rate of 3sg -s production. This finding suggests that, in addition to other learning mechanisms that yield such errors cross-linguistically, at least some of the OI errors produced by English-speaking children reflect a process of defaulting to a high-frequency/phonologically simple form.
Descriptors: Young Children, English, Speech, Error Patterns, Verbs, Case Studies, Correlation, Child Language
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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