Early comprehension of the Spanish plural

Natalia Arias-Trejo, Lisa M. Cantrell, Linda B. Smith, Elda A. Alva Canto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding how linguistic cues map to the environment is crucial for early language comprehension and may provide a way for bootstrapping and learning words. Research has suggested that learning how plural syntax maps to the perceptual environment may show a trajectory in which children first learn surrounding cues (verbs, modifiers) before a full mastery of the noun morpheme alone. The Spanish plural system of simple codas, dominated by one allomorph -s, and with redundant agreement markers, may facilitate early understanding of how plural linguistic cues map to novel referents. Two-year-old Mexican children correctly identified multiple novel object referents when multiple verbal cues in a phrase indicated plurality as well as in instances when the noun morphology in novel nouns was the only indicator of plurality. These results demonstrate Spanish-speaking children's ability to use plural noun inflectional morphology to infer novel word referents which may have implications for their word learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1356-1372
JournalJournal of Child Language
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes

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