The Impact of Sound Structure on Morphology: An Experimental Study on the Acquisition of German and Danish Noun Plurals Focusing on Stem Change

Sabine Laaha, Laila Kjærbæk, Hans Basbøll, Wolfgang U. Dressler

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    This study examines the impact of sound structure on children’s acquisition of
    noun plural morphology, focussing on stem change. For this purpose, a threelevel
    classification of stem change properties according to sound structure is
    presented, with increasing opacity of the plural stem: no change, weak change,
    strong change. General hypotheses are presented as well as predictions
    following from them, both general and language-specific. The relevance of stem
    change is tested in 140 German-speaking and 140 Danish-speaking children
    from the age of three to nine years, by using a plural elicitation task. Results
    show that in both languages, stem change has an impact on children’s correct
    production of plural stems. Language-specific differences between German and
    Danish both in correct responses and in overgeneralization errors are compared
    to our predictions and discussed in detail.
    TidsskriftActa Linguistica Hafniensia
    Udgave nummer2
    Sider (fra-til)106-126
    StatusUdgivet - 2011