How polish children switch from one case to another when using novel nouns: Challenges for models of inflectional morphology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The two main models of children's acquisition of inflectional morphology-the Dual-Mechanism approach and the usage-based (schema-based) approach-have both been applied mainly to languages with fairly simple morphological systems. Here we report two studies of 2-3-year-old Polish children's ability to generalise across case-inflectional endings on nouns. In the first study, we found that the morphological form in which children first encounter a noun in Polish has a strong effect on their ability to produce other forms of that same noun. In the second study, we found that this effect is different depending on the target form to which children are switching. Similarity between inflectional endings played a crucial role in facilitating the task, whereas the simple frequency of either source or target forms was not a decisive factor in either study. These findings undermine Dual-Mechanism models that posit all-ornone acquisition of abstract morphological rules, and they also present serious challenges for usage-based models, in which frequency typically plays a key role. © 2010 Psychology Press.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)830-861
Number of pages31
JournalLanguage and Cognitive Processes
Issue number4-6
Publication statusPublished - May 2011