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Children’s Tolerance of Word-Form Variation

Bruening, Paul R. and Brooks, Patricia J. and Alfieri, Louis and Kempe, Vera and Dabašinskienė, Ineta (2012) Children’s Tolerance of Word-Form Variation. Child Development Research, 2012. pp. 1-12. ISSN 2090-3987

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How much morphological variation can children tolerate when identifying familiar words? This is an important question in the context of the acquisition of richly inflected languages where identical word forms occur far less frequently than in English. To address this question, we compared children’s (N=96, mean age 4;1, range 2;11–5;1) and adults’ (N=96, mean age 21 years) tolerance of word-onset modifications (e.g., for stug: wug and wastug) and pseudoaffixes (e.g., kostug and stugko) in a label-extension task. Word-form modifications were repeated within each experiment to establish productive inflectional patterns. In two experiments, children and adults exhibited similar strategies: they were more tolerant of prefixes (wastug) than substitutions of initial consonants (wug), and more tolerant of suffixes (stugko) than prefixes (kostug). The findings point to word-learning strategies as being flexible and adaptive to morphological patterns in languages.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bruening, Paul R.
Brooks, Patricia
Alfieri, Louis
Kempe, Vera
Dabašinskienė, Ineta
Centers: Other Centers, Institutes, Offices, or Units > Learning Research & Development Center
Date: 2012
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Child Development Research
Volume: 2012
Publisher: Hindawi Limited
Page Range: pp. 1-12
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1155/2012/401680
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 2090-3987
Official URL:
Article Type: Research Article
Date Deposited: 13 May 2020 16:49
Last Modified: 13 May 2020 16:49


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