In written French, the acquisition of the nominal plural (-s) occurs earlier and faster than the acquisition of the verbal plural (-nt) (Totereau, Thevenin & Fayol, 1997, Learning to Spell). The reasons for this difference are not well known. The objective of the present research is to test two alternative hypotheses, which may provide an account of this difference by exploiting a particularity of written French: The agreement of adjectives. According to the first hypothesis, the nominal plural is acquired before the verbal plural because it is semantically grounded, unlike the latter. According to the second, the early emergence of noun agreements is due to the fact that -s occurs more consistently than -nt. These two hypotheses lead to different predictions, that can be tested empirically, with regard to the agreement of adjectives. These predictions were studied in three experiments using sentences recall or completion tasks presented to children from 7 to 10 years old. The results confirm the semantic hypothesis but reveal an impact of consistency on performance.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 17, 2006
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