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Morphological Contrasts in German Child Language and Child Directed Speech

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Children learning a language like German have to acquire sets of contrasting forms for articles, possessive pronouns and other words that encode grammatical distinctions (e.g. singular vs. plural, masculine vs. feminine, nominative vs. accusative). I will investigate how 1-3 year old German children build up paradigms of such contrasting forms and discuss the implication of my empirical results for different theoretical approaches to children’s morphological development. I will then show that the way in which adults typically talk to children presents them with many “minimal pairs” that can support the acquisition of grammatical distinctions.

This talk is part of the RCEAL Tuesday Colloquia series.

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