Dissertation Defence Tiffany Boersma

Variability in the acquisition of allomorphs

09Mar2018 12:00


On 9 March next, Tiffany Boersma will defend her doctoral thesis. For a short abstract, see below.


What factors influence the acquisition of allomorphs? Allomorphs are phonological variant forms of morphemes. Studies have found variability in the acquisition of allomorphs and various explanations have been given for this. However, a multifactorial understanding that brings together the relationships between these explanations is still missing. In four studies the development of the Dutch past tense and diminutive allomorphs were investigated in adults, typically developing children, and children with reading difficulties using a production and judgement task. Associations between children’s sensitivity to allomorphy and complexity of the phonological characteristics of the stem, children’s phonological processing skills, type and phonotactic frequencies of the (stem+) allomorph, and children’s vocabulary size were investigated.
Type frequency and vocabulary size certainly played a role as children need enough input to be able to abstract the morphophonological patterns. However, the better children’s phonological processing skills and the less complex the phonological characteristics, the better children were able to abstract the phonological patterns and choose the appropriate allomorph.


prof. dr. A.E. Baker and prof. dr. F.W. Weerman, ACLC, dr. J.E. Rispens, ACLC.

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