This project aims to examine if children have rules for making plurals. For example, if a child says that the plural of book is books. Does he really know that he has to add the allomorph /-s/ to the singular to make the plural? Or does he memorize the plural form independently from the singular?
The plural allomorphs that children are expected to acquire are /-s/, /-z/, and /-əz/. The child participated in this project is expected to make plurals as adults and add the correct plural allomorph to the end of singular forms. He should be able to add /-s/ after voiceless consonant sounds such as /t/, /p/ and /k/, /-z/ after some voiced consonant sounds like /m/ and /n/ or vowels, and /-əz/ after other consonants such as /s/ and /z/.
In order to test if the child has plural making rules, six imaginative words were made up. These nonsense words were bleem, foo, niss, muzz, brop, and dit. For example, if the child answered that the plural of brop is brops correctly, then it is certain that children generate some rules to make plurals.
This project examines the plural making rules acquisition of a 5-year old child. The child participated in this project is an Emirati. He is bilingual; he speaks both Arabic and English. In this project, the initials H.K will refer to the child.
Materials and Procedure
To examine the plural making rules of H.K, six nonsense words were used. These words were assigned to imaginary animals pictures. The nonsense words used in this project were bleem, foo, niss, muzz, brop, and dit. He was expected to pronounce bleems as /bli:mz/, foos as /fu:z/, nisses as /nɪsəz/, muzzes as /m⋀zəz/, brops as /brops/, and dits as /dɪts/.
To get H.K familiar with the project procedures, two pictures of real animals, a cat and a dog, were used. All of the pictures were printed on A4 papers. There were two versions of the pictures. In the first version, there was only one animal picture printed on the A4 paper. However, in the other version two pictures were printed.
H.K was first shown the picture of one cat. The focus here was to identify the animal in the picture correctly. After that, he was shown the picture of two cats. The conversation with H.K occurred as the following:
Examiner: “Do you know the animal in this picture?”
H.K: “Yes. Cat.”
Examiner: “We have one _____.”
Examiner: “Now, in this picture we have two ______.”
The previous procedure was repeated using another animal, which was a dog, to be certain that H.K has understood the procedures of this project. Then, he was presented to the nonsense words as imaginary animals pictures. These nonsense words occurred in the following order:
1. This animal is called foo. We have one ______. Now, we have two _____.
2. This animal is called niss. We have one ______. Now, we have two _____.
3. This animal is called brop. We have one ______. Now, we have two _____.
4. This animal is called dit. We have one ______. Now, we have two _____.