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A challenge to current models of past tense inflection: the impact of phonotactics.

Marshall, CR; van der Lely, HK; (2006) A challenge to current models of past tense inflection: the impact of phonotactics. Cognition , 100 (2) pp. 302-320. 10.1016/j.cognition.2005.06.001.

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Abstract

Is past tense production better modelled by a Single Mechanism or a Words and Rules model? We present data concerning a phenomenon that has not been considered by either model-regular past tense verbs with contrasting phonotactics. One set of verbs contains clusters at the inflected verb end that also occur in monomorphemic words ('monomorphemically legal clusters', MLC) whereas the other has clusters that can only occur in inflected forms ('monomorphemically illegal clusters', MIC). We argue that if children apply a morphological rule, phonotactics will not affect performance. Conversely, if children store past tense forms, they will perform better on verbs with MLCs because these clusters are more frequent. We investigated three populations--typically developing children, Grammatical-SLI (G-SLI) and Williams Syndrome (WS)--using past tense elicitation tasks. In Experiment 1 we reanalyse data from van der Lely and Ullman [van der Lely, H. K. J. & Ullman, M. (2001). Past tense morphology in specifically language impaired and normally developing children. Language and Cognitive Processes, 16: 177-217] and show that G-SLI children perform better on MLC verbs, whereas for typically developing children phonotactics do not affect performance. In Experiment 2 we replicate these findings in new groups of G-SLI and typically developing children. In Experiment 3 we reanalyse data from Thomas et al. [Thomas, M. S. C., Grant, J., Barham, Z., Gsodl, M., Laing, E., Lakusta, L., Tyler, L.K., Grice, S., Paterson, S. & Karmiloff-Smith, A. (2001) Past tense formation in Williams Syndrome. Language and Cognitive Processes, 16: 143-176] and show that phonotactics do not affect performance in individuals with WS. We argue that the results elucidate the underlying nature of morphology in these populations, and are better accommodated within a Words and Rules model of past tense acquisition.

Type: Article
Title: A challenge to current models of past tense inflection: the impact of phonotactics.
Location: Netherlands
DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2005.06.001
Keywords: Humans, Language, Linguistics, Phonetics
UCL classification: UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10377
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