Overgeneralization and Rule Productivity

One striking error that children make in the process of acquiring grammatical morphemes is the overregular-ization of regular forms to irregular examples. For example, the plural -s is frequently added to nouns that take an irregular plural, such as "mans" instead of "men" or "mouses" instead of "mice," and the regular past tense ending -ed is sometimes used on verbs that are marked with an irregular form, such as "failed," "goed," or ''teached.'' These errors may not be frequent, but they can persist well into the school years and are quite resistant to feedback or correction. They are taken as evidence that the child is indeed acquiring a rule-governed system rather than learning these inflections on a word-by-word basis.

Other evidence for the productive use of morphological rules comes from an elicited production task introduced by Jean Berko Gleason called the Wug test. The child is shown drawings depicting novel creatures, objects, and actions and asked to supply the appropriate description that would require the inclusion of noun or verb inflections. For example, a creature was labeled a wug, and then the child had to fill in the blank for ''there are two _.'' Preschool aged children performed well on this task, demonstrating their internalized knowledge of English morphological rules that can be applied productively.

Steven Pinker has argued that two different mechanisms are involved in acquiring regular and irregular forms. Regular forms involve a linguistic rule-governed mechanism, whereas irregular forms are retrieved directly from the lexicon and thus involve a memory storage system. This dual-mechanism hypothesis has been challenged by models developed within connectionist frameworks, in which only a single mechanism is needed to compute the correct form for regular and irregular examples, after being trained on mixed input. The debate between these camps continues.

Breaking Bulimia

Breaking Bulimia

We have all been there: turning to the refrigerator if feeling lonely or bored or indulging in seconds or thirds if strained. But if you suffer from bulimia, the from time to time urge to overeat is more like an obsession.

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