Acoustic Investigations Into the Later Acquisition of Syllabic -es Plurals PurposeChildren acquire /-əz/ syllabic plurals (e.g., buses) later than /-s, -z/ segmental plurals (e.g., cats,dogs). In this study, the authors explored whether increased syllable number or segmental factors best explains poorer performance with syllabic plurals.MethodAn elicited imitation experiment was conducted with 14 two-year-olds involving 8 familiar disyllabic target plural nouns, ... Article
Article  |   August 01, 2013
Acoustic Investigations Into the Later Acquisition of Syllabic -es Plurals
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Kiri T. Mealings
    Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
  • Felicity Cox
    Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
  • Katherine Demuth
    Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
  • Correspondence to Kiri T. Mealings: kiri.mealings@students.mq.edu.au
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Susan Rvachew
    Associate Editor: Susan Rvachew×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Article   |   August 01, 2013
Acoustic Investigations Into the Later Acquisition of Syllabic -es Plurals
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2013, Vol. 56, 1260-1271. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/12-0163)
History: Received May 23, 2012 , Revised October 29, 2012 , Accepted December 6, 2012
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2013, Vol. 56, 1260-1271. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/12-0163)
History: Received May 23, 2012; Revised October 29, 2012; Accepted December 6, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 6

PurposeChildren acquire /-əz/ syllabic plurals (e.g., buses) later than /-s, -z/ segmental plurals (e.g., cats,dogs). In this study, the authors explored whether increased syllable number or segmental factors best explains poorer performance with syllabic plurals.

MethodAn elicited imitation experiment was conducted with 14 two-year-olds involving 8 familiar disyllabic target plural nouns, half with syllabic plurals (e.g., busbuses) and half with segmental plurals (e.g., letterletters). Children saw pictures of the target items on a computer and repeated prerecorded 3-word-utterances with the target word in utterance-medial position (e.g., “The buses come”) and utterance-final position (e.g., “Hear the buses”). Acoustic analysis determined the presence or absence of the plural morpheme and its duration.

ResultsChildren had more trouble producing syllabic plurals compared with segmental plurals. Errors were especially evident in the utterance-medial position, where there was less time for the child to perceive/produce the word in the absence of phrase-final lengthening and where planning for the following word was still required.

ConclusionsThe results suggested that articulatory difficulties—rather than a word length effect—explain later acquisition of syllabic plurals relative to segmental plurals. These findings have implications for the nature of syllabic plural acquisition in children with hearing impairments and specific language impairment.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported, in part, by funding from Macquarie University and from Australian Research Council (ARC) Grants ARC DP110102479 (awarded to Felicity Cox) and ARC CE110001021 (awarded to Crain et al.), as well as funding from National Institutes of Health Grant R01HD057606 (awarded to Demuth and Shattuck-Hufnagel). Portions of this research were presented at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders Annual Workshop, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, in November 2011; the 42nd Annual Conference of the Australian Linguistics Society, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, in December 2011; and the Experimental Psychology Conference, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, in April 2012. We thank Robert Mannell, Kelly Miles, Nan Xu, Ivan Yuen, and the Child Language Lab at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, for helpful assistance and feedback.
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