ERIC Number: EJ1180821
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-May
Abstractor: As Provided
Children's Acquisition of the English Past-Tense: Evidence for a Single-Route Account from Novel Verb Production Data
Blything, Ryan P.; Ambridge, Ben; Lieven, Elena V. M.
Cognitive Science, v42 suppl 2 p621-639 May 2018
This study adjudicates between two opposing accounts of morphological productivity, using English past-tense as its test case. The single-route model (e.g., Bybee & Moder, 1983) posits that both regular and irregular past-tense forms are generated by analogy across stored exemplars in associative memory. In contrast, the dual-route model (e.g., Prasada & Pinker, 1993) posits that regular inflection requires use of a formal "add '-ed'" rule that does not require analogy across regular past-tense forms. Children (aged 3-4; 5-6; 6-7; 9-10) saw animations of an animal performing a novel action described with a novel verb (e.g., "gezz"; "chake"). Past-tense forms of novel verbs were elicited by prompting the child to describe what the animal "did yesterday." Collapsing across age group (since no interaction was observed), the likelihood of a verb being produced in regular past-tense form (e.g., "gezzed"; "chaked") was positively associated with the verb's similarity to existing regular verbs, consistent with the single-route model only. Results indicate that children's acquisition of the English past-tense is best explained by a single-route analogical mechanism that does not incorporate a role for formal rules.
Descriptors: English, Grammar, Morphemes, Correlation, Language Acquisition, Associative Learning, Morphology (Languages), Models, Memory, Linguistic Theory, Toddlers, Young Children, Children, Animation, Animals, Novelty (Stimulus Dimension), Age Differences, Verbs
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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