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Academic Paper


Title: Mastering inflectional suffixes: a longitudinal study of beginning writers' spellings*
Author: Kathryn Turnbull
Institution: University of Western Ontario
Author: D Hélène Deacon
Institution: Dalhousie University
Author: Elizabeth Kay-Raining Bird
Institution: Dalhousie University
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics; Language Acquisition
Subject Language: English
Abstract: This study tracked the order in which ten beginning spellers (M age=5 ; 05; SD=0·21 years) mastered the correct spellings of common inflectional suffixes in English. Spellings from children's journals from kindergarten and grade 1 were coded. An inflectional suffix was judged to be mastered when children spelled it accurately in 90 percent of the contexts in which it was grammatically required, a criterion used to study the order of acquisition of grammatical morphemes in oral language. The results indicated that the order in which children learned to spell inflectional suffixes correctly is similar to the order in which they learn to use them in oral language, before school age. Discrepancies between the order of mastery for inflectional suffixes in written and oral language are discussed in terms of English spelling conventions, which introduce variables into the spelling of inflected words that are not present in oral language.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 38, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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