Learning the rules: The acquisition of morphological regularities in language

Friday, 2017, February 24 - 12:00
The University of Manchester, Manchester


Research demonstrates that infants begin learning words during the first year of life (e.g., Bergelson & Swingley, 2012). Yet, learning a language requires more than simply building a vocabulary; learners must also learn the morphological rules and regularities of their language. In a series of studies at different points of development, and using a range of behavioural and neuroimaging methodologies, I investigate how infants learn morphology. I will present research from neonates, showing the constraints humans may have on processing regularities in speech from birth. Then I will show evidence from 9- to 24-month-old Italian-learning infants demonstrating their ability to find the regularities in their language and map those regularities to the conceptual distinctions that they highlight.


Ferry, A. L., Fló, A., Brusini, P., Cattarossi, L., Macagno, F., Nespor, M., & Mehler, J. (2015). On the edge of language acquisition: inherent constraints on encoding multisyllabic sequences in the neonate brain. Developmental science

Kouider, S., Halberda, J., Wood, J., & Carey, S. (2006). Acquisition of English number marking: The singular-plural distinction. Language Learning and development, 2(1), 1-25. (pdf)