The Effects of Inflectional Variation on Fast Mapping of Verbs in English and Spanish To use morphological cues for syntactic bootstrapping, children must recognize that inflectionally varying words (e.g., pushes, pushed) are instances of the same word. Children who are exposed to languages with richer inflectional morphologies than English, such as Spanish, encounter instances of inflectional variation more often. Thus they may learn to ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 2000
The Effects of Inflectional Variation on Fast Mapping of Verbs in English and Spanish
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Lisa M. Bedore
    University of Texas at Austin
  • Laurence B. Leonard
    Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: lbedore@mail.utexas.edu
  • Contact author: Lisa M. Bedore, PhD, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Jesse H. Jones Communication Center, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712-1089. Email lbedore@mail.utexas.edu
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 2000
The Effects of Inflectional Variation on Fast Mapping of Verbs in English and Spanish
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2000, Vol. 43, 21-33. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4301.21
History: Received October 13, 1998 , Accepted June 14, 1999
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2000, Vol. 43, 21-33. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4301.21
History: Received October 13, 1998; Accepted June 14, 1999

To use morphological cues for syntactic bootstrapping, children must recognize that inflectionally varying words (e.g., pushes, pushed) are instances of the same word. Children who are exposed to languages with richer inflectional morphologies than English, such as Spanish, encounter instances of inflectional variation more often. Thus they may learn to recognize inflectionally varying words as instances of the same word at an earlier age than do learners of English. English- and Spanish-learning 3-year olds were taught novel verbs in a fast mapping task under two conditions: no-inflectional variation in which inflections did not vary between exposure and testing (e.g., neps, neps) and inflectional variation in which inflections alternated between exposure and testing (e.g., neps, nepped). Children’s scores were significantly higher in the no-variation condition than in the variation condition. There were no significant differences between the performance of the language groups. These findings suggest that even children acquiring languages with relatively rich verbal inflection paradigms may not be able to consistently parse stems and inflections to associate inflectionally varying forms.

Acknowledgments
The research reported in this paper was supported by training grant T32 DC00030 from the National Institutes on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders. Appreciation is extended to Lisa Goffman, Robert Hammond, and Ronnie Wilbur for their helpful input throughout this project. We also are grateful for Carolina Peñuelas’ assistance during data collection.
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