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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Academic Paper

Title: Infinitives or bare stems? Are English-speaking children defaulting to the highest-frequency form?
Author: Ben Ambridge
Institution: University of Liverpool
Author: Julian M. Pine
Institution: University of Liverpool
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Morphology
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Young English-speaking children often produce utterances with missing 3sg -s (e.g., *He play). Since the mid 1990s, such errors have tended to be treated as Optional Infinitive (OI) errors, in which the verb is a non-finite form (e.g., Wexler, ; Legate & Yang, ). The present article reports the results of a cross-sectional elicited-production study with 22 children (aged 3;1–4;1), which investigated the possibility that at least some apparent OI errors reflect a process of defaulting to the form with the highest frequency in the input. Across 48 verbs, a significant negative correlation was observed between the proportion of ‘bare’ vs. 3sg -s forms in a representative input corpus and the rate of 3sg -s production. This finding suggests that, in addition to other learning mechanisms that yield such errors cross-linguistically, at least some of the OI errors produced by English-speaking children reflect a process of defaulting to a high-frequency/phonologically simple form.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 41, Issue 4.

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