Disentangling Effects of Input Frequency and Morphophonological Complexity on Children's Acquisition of Verb Inflection: An Elicited Production Study of Japanese

Cognitive Science 42 (S2):555-577 (2018)
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This study aims to disentangle the often-confounded effects of input frequency and morphophonological complexity in the acquisition of inflection, by focusing on simple and complex verb forms in Japanese. Study 1 tested 28 children aged 3;3–4;3 on stative and simple past forms, and Study 2 tested 30 children aged 3;5–5;3 on completive and simple past forms, with both studies using a production priming paradigm. Mixed effects models for children's responses were built to test the prediction that children's verb use is explained by the relative bias in input frequency between the two inflectional forms. Although Study 1 did not show a significant effect of input bias, Study 2, which corrected for this problem, yielded the predicted relationship. These findings suggest that input frequency effects, at the level of different inflectional forms of the same verb stem, hold even after controlling for morphophonological complexity.



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