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ERIC Number: EJ977018
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Jan
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
Is "Two" a Plural Marker in Early Child Language?
Barner, David; Lui, Toni; Zapf, Jennifer
Developmental Psychology, v48 n1 p10-17 Jan 2012
Is "two" ever a plural marker in child language? By some accounts, children bootstrap the distinction between the words "one" and "two" by observing their use with singular-plural marking ("one ball/two balls"). Others argue that the numeral "two" marks plurality before children begin using numerals to denote precise quantities. We tested the relation between numerals and singular-plural marking in English-speaking 2- and 3-year-olds by asking them to label sets of objects. When children were not prompted to use numerals they hardly ever did so, although they did frequently use plural marking. Thus, it does not appear that children spontaneously use numerals like "two" as plural markers. Also, children who used numerals when labeling sets were significantly more likely to use a plural marker than children who did not use numerals, suggesting that most children view plural marking as obligatory when numerals are used, rather than viewing the 2 forms as alternative markers of plurality. Finally, "two" was no more likely than other numerals to be used with unmarked nouns (i.e., as an alternative to the plural), suggesting that it does not have a special status as a plural marker. We conclude that "two" is not a plural marker in early child language. (Contains 4 figures, 1 table, and 6 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A