The Acquisition of the Possessive /-s/ Morpheme

Goble, Grace
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In this study, we investigated children’s understanding and production of the English complex possessive phrases. Children are able to learn language without any instruction other than what they hear from the adults around them. This input, however, is not labeled or organized in any way. Due to the homophony between the possessive and plural constructions in English, there must be some way in which children organize and learn these rules. During the study, we presented children ages 3-5 with different options on how to form complex possessive structures. Surprisingly, their preferred construction is also one that Universal Grammar predicts never will occur. By looking at how they chose to form the construction and how adults form the construction, we hoped to shed more light on not only the children’s understanding of the structure, but the adults’ as well.

Language Acquisition., English., Syntax.