Interplay of Function Morphemes and Prosody in Early Language

Lou Ann Gerken, Bonnie J. McIntosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


Previous studies have demonstrated that children are aware of the function morphemes in their language despite their failure to produce them. However, none of these studies tested whether children are aware of the linguistic contexts in which particular function morphemes occur. Only if children are aware of such co-occurrence patterns could they use function morphemes to determine the linguistic categories of words and phrases. Young 2-year-olds demonstrated their awareness of function morpheme co-occurrence patterns by performing better in a picture identification task when the target word was preceded by a grammatical article than an ungrammatical auxiliary. Children who heard the sentences produced in a female voice performed better than those who heard a male voice, and this was especially true for sentences exhibiting the most regular co-occurrence patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-457
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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