CHILDREN’S OVERREGULARIZATION OF ENGLISH PAST-TENSE VERBS RESULTS IN MORE PHONOTACTICALLY PROBABLE FORMS
AuthorGonzalez Herrera, Daniela
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractWhy do children make verb overregularization errors (e.g. winned instead of won)? Previous studies suggested that children’s discovery of the past-tense -ed verb rule led to these errors. However, later studies found that children recognize overregularized forms of verbs months before they produce them. Therefore, this thesis explores another possible explanation for children’s overregualrizations in production based on the fact that certain sound sequences are more likely to occur in English than others. This likelihood is phonotactic probability. We suggest that the use of overregularized verbs results in more phonotactically probable sentences given English. The experiment presented examined utterances containing overregularized verbs from two children’s corpora and compared their phonotactic and biphone probabilities to the utterance with the correct form of the irregular. Results from the experiment determined that in most cases, the use of the overregularized verb form resulted in higher phonotactic probability given English. Therefore, it is concluded that phonotactic probability might provide a partial explanation for why children produce overregularized forms like "winned."
Degree ProgramPsychological Science