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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

New from Cambridge University Press!


Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: When answer-phone makes a difference in children's acquisition of English compounds
Author: Victoria A. Murphy
Institution: University of Oxford
Author: Elena Nicoladis
Institution: University of Alberta
Linguistic Field: Morphology; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Over the course of acquiring deverbal compounds like truck driver, English-speaking children pass through a stage when they produce ungrammatical compounds like drive-truck. These errors have been attributed to canonical phrasal ordering (Clark, Hecht & Mulford, 1986). In this study, we compared British and Canadian children's compound production. Both dialects have the same phrasal ordering but some different lexical items (e.g. answer-phone exists only in British English). If influenced by these lexical differences, British children would produce more ungrammatical Verb–Object (VO) compounds in trying to produce the more complex deverbal (Object–Verb-er) than the Canadian children. 36 British children between the ages of 3;6 and 5;6 and 36 age-matched Canadian children were asked to produce novel compounds (like sun juggler). The British children produced more ungrammatical compounds and fewer grammatical compounds than the Canadian children. We argue that children's errors in deverbal compounds may be due in part to competing lexical structures.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 33, Issue 3.

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