Informants’ Race And Accent Influence Preschoolers’ Uptake Of Irregular Nouns And Verbs

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Margaret Hancock (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Robyn Kondrad

Abstract: When young children are learning the structure of the English language, they learn rules like “add –s if there is more than one of something.” However, as a more experienced speaker would quickly point out, not all words abide by these simple principles; after all it is women not womans. Before children master each of the exceptions to the general guidelines, they apply morphological rules even when not necessary; an error known as overregularization. Research shows that preschoolers struggle to resist the incorrect, overregularized forms of words (i.e. “childs”) over the correct, irregular forms (i.e. “children”), even when a previously accurate informant provides the correct form. In this study, previous accuracy was stacked with information about race and accent, which have both been shown to influence learning preferences. White four-year-old children were presented with a choice between an out-group member (i.e., black, foreign accent) who says the incorrect, over-regularized form of a word against an in-group member (i.e., white, native accent) who says the irregular, correct form. Children’s social goals led them to trust the in-group, those of the same race and native accent, and endorse unexpected, irregular words.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Hancock, M. (2018). "Informants’ Race And Accent Influence Preschoolers’ Uptake Of Irregular Nouns And Verbs." Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2018
Developmental psychology, Race, Accent, Preschooler, Irregular words

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