The role of morphophonological regularity in young Spanish-speaking children's production of gendered noun phrases.J Child Lang. 2012 Sep; 39(4):753-76.JC
Adult Spanish speakers generally know which form a determiner preceding a noun should have even if the noun is not in their lexicon, because Spanish demonstrates high predictability between determiner form and noun form (la noun-a and el noun-o). We asked whether young children learning Spanish are similarly sensitive to the correlation of determiner and noun forms, or whether they initially learn determiner-noun pairings one-by-one. Spanish-English bilingual children and adults repeated Spanish words and non-words preceded by gender congruous and incongruous determiners. If children learn determiner-noun pairings one-by-one, they should show a gender congruity effect only for words. In contrast with this prediction, both children and adults demonstrated congruity effects for words and non-words, indicating sensitivity to correlated morphophonological forms. Furthermore, both age groups showed more facility in producing phrases with nouns ending in -a, which are more frequent and predictable from the preceding determiner.