Over-Regularization in Morphological Development

Elena Nicoladis

In: Encyclopedia of Language Development

Over-Regularization in Morphological Development

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  • Children sometimes use morphology differently from adults, which may lead to over-generalization of morphemes, as has been observed in many children. For example, English-speaking children sometimes say, “I bringed the book,” adding the common -ed ending to the verb bring. Another example is this: “The womans are in the next room.” Children's use of “bringed” or “womans” has been called over-regularization under the assumptions that -ed is the regular past-tense morpheme in English and -s is the regular plural morpheme in English and that children are using these forms where adults use irregular forms (like brought and women). One reason over-regularizations are of interest to researchers is that they provide evidence that children are not parroting what they have heard adults say but are ...

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