Event Title

The Impact of Phonology and Number on Children's Novel Plural Productions

Mentor 1

Jennifer Lanter

Location

Union Wisconsin Room

Start Date

24-4-2015 10:30 AM

End Date

24-4-2015 11:45 AM

Description

Children utilize several factors as they acquire the English plural. Children consider the meaning of the plural, including the role of number and similarity (Zapf and Smith, 2008), and are also impacted by the production difficultly (also known as phonological complexity) of the plural forms (Ettlinger and Zapf, 2011; Berko, 1958). Considering these previously shown differences for familiar plural forms (i.e., dogs), our goal was to see whether these factors impact children’s production of novel forms (i.e., wugs) in the same way. We focus on novel forms in this study because they remove the confound that exists with known forms, where some children know certain forms and other children do not. Therefore, by using novel words we control exposure to the word forms, so all children experience equal exposure to a word in its singular form and are not exposed to the word in its plural form. / / Thirty-two three- and four-year old children were presented a picture of a singular novel object while a prompt was read that introduced the novel word. Participants were then presented with either two or four of that same novel object and were asked what he or she saw on the screen. The plural form of the novel words, which was not introduced by the experimenter, varied in phonological complexity. It was hypothesized that the presentation of four novel objects would result in greater plural production, as would phonologically simpler novel forms, words that children have an easier time formulating. / / Findings show that children are less likely to produce the plural of novel words with complex phonology and when there are two items presented rather than four items. In addition, interesting findings emerged regarding children's spontaneous use of quantifiers as prefixes to the plural forms. Children were more likely to use plural quantifiers (i.e., two) when fewer objects were presented. We suggest that children may have an easier time seeing two objects as plural, rather than four objects, which may appear as a “single group” and thus require the singular label. In all, we discuss children's acquisition of the plural and production of novel plural forms as involving a system of factors where children have limited cognitive resources that are used strategically as task difficulty increases.

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Apr 24th, 10:30 AM Apr 24th, 11:45 AM

The Impact of Phonology and Number on Children's Novel Plural Productions

Union Wisconsin Room

Children utilize several factors as they acquire the English plural. Children consider the meaning of the plural, including the role of number and similarity (Zapf and Smith, 2008), and are also impacted by the production difficultly (also known as phonological complexity) of the plural forms (Ettlinger and Zapf, 2011; Berko, 1958). Considering these previously shown differences for familiar plural forms (i.e., dogs), our goal was to see whether these factors impact children’s production of novel forms (i.e., wugs) in the same way. We focus on novel forms in this study because they remove the confound that exists with known forms, where some children know certain forms and other children do not. Therefore, by using novel words we control exposure to the word forms, so all children experience equal exposure to a word in its singular form and are not exposed to the word in its plural form. / / Thirty-two three- and four-year old children were presented a picture of a singular novel object while a prompt was read that introduced the novel word. Participants were then presented with either two or four of that same novel object and were asked what he or she saw on the screen. The plural form of the novel words, which was not introduced by the experimenter, varied in phonological complexity. It was hypothesized that the presentation of four novel objects would result in greater plural production, as would phonologically simpler novel forms, words that children have an easier time formulating. / / Findings show that children are less likely to produce the plural of novel words with complex phonology and when there are two items presented rather than four items. In addition, interesting findings emerged regarding children's spontaneous use of quantifiers as prefixes to the plural forms. Children were more likely to use plural quantifiers (i.e., two) when fewer objects were presented. We suggest that children may have an easier time seeing two objects as plural, rather than four objects, which may appear as a “single group” and thus require the singular label. In all, we discuss children's acquisition of the plural and production of novel plural forms as involving a system of factors where children have limited cognitive resources that are used strategically as task difficulty increases.