The role of phonological context in children’s overt marking of ‘-s’ in two dialects
of American English
We consider the role of preceding and following phonological context in the variable marking of monosegmental English plural and 3rd-person singular morphemes by African-American English speaking children (Study 1), and by younger children speaking a more mainstream variety of American English (Study 2). Results of both studies show that overt marking was favored in utterance-final contexts and with plurals, consistent with prior research findings. However, preceding consonant contexts favored the overt marking of the morphemes, contrary to prior research findings. We discuss these findings in terms of syllable organization and morphophonological complexity, and offer suggestions for future research to further delineate the specific contributions of phonological context to the overt marking of morphemes in child language.