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Child Development Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 718925, 17 pages
Research Article

Acquisition of German Noun Plurals in Typically Developing Children and Children with Specific Language Impairment

1Philipps-Universität Marburg, Institut für Germanistische Sprachwissenschaft, Wilhelm-Röpke-Straße 6A, 35032 Marburg, Germany
2Zentrum für Angewandte Psycho- und Patholinguistik, Am Kanal 16-18, 14467 Potsdam, Germany

Received 20 August 2010; Revised 29 November 2010; Accepted 25 January 2011

Academic Editor: Karla K. McGregor

Copyright © 2011 Christina Kauschke et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The present study investigates the acquisition of plural markers in German children with and without language impairments using an elicitation task. In the first cross-sectional study, 60 monolingual children between three and six years of age were tested. The results show significant improvements starting at the age of five. Plural forms which require a vowel change (umlaut) but no overt suffix were most challenging for all children. With regard to their error patterns, the typically developing children preferably overapplied the suffix -e to monosyllabic stems and added -s to stems ending in a trochee. Though the children made errors in plural markings, the prosodic structures of pluralized nouns were kept legitimate. In the second study, the production of plural markers in eight children with SLI was compared to age-matched and MLU-matched controls. Children with SLI performed at the level of the MLU-matched controls, showing subtle differences with regard to their error patterns, and their preferences in addition and substitution errors: In contrast to their typically developing peers, children with SLI preferred the frequent suffix -n in their overapplications, suggesting that they strongly rely on frequency-based cues. The findings are discussed from a morphophonological perspective.