Children's overregularization of English plurals

a quantitative analysis.

Gary Marcus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper brings a quantitative study of children's noun plural overregularizations (foots, mans) to bear on recent comparisons of connectionist and symbolic models of language. The speech of 10 English-speaking children (aged 1;3 to 5;2) from the CHILDES database (MacWhinney & Snow, 1985, 1990) were analysed. The rate of noun overregularization is low, mean = 8.5%, demonstrating that children prefer correct to overregularized forms. Rates of noun overregularization are not significantly different from their rates of past tense overregularization, and noun plurals, like verb past tenses, follow a U-shaped developmental curve in which correct irregulars precede the first overregularized forms. These facts suggest that plural and past tense overregularizations are caused by similar underlying processes. The results pose challenges to connectionist models, but are consistent with Marcus et al.'s (1992) blocking-and-retrieval-failure model in which regulars are generated by a default rule while irregulars are retrieved from the lexicon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-459
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Child Language
Volume22
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1995

Fingerprint

Neural Networks (Computer)
Snow
speaking
Foot
Language
Databases
language
Overregularization
Quantitative Analysis
Past Tense
Plural Nouns
Nouns
Irregular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

Cite this

Children's overregularization of English plurals : a quantitative analysis. / Marcus, Gary.

In: Journal of Child Language, Vol. 22, No. 2, 06.1995, p. 447-459.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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