Journal of Child Language


Productivity and beyond: mastering the Polish genitive inflection 1

a1 University of Sheffield

Article author query
dabrowska e   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


This study charts the development of the genitive masculine inflection, one of the most irregular parts of the Polish case-marking system. 72 Polish children aged from 2;3 to 10;8 participated in a nonce word production experiment testing their ability to supply the genitive form and their sensitivity to the semantic factors determining the choice of ending. Results indicate that productivity, or the ability to supply the inflected form of some nonce words, emerges early: 78% of the two-year-olds were able to inflect at least one test item. However, mastery, or the ability to consistently supply the correct ending, takes considerably longer to develop, and adultlike levels of provision are not reached until about age 10;0.

(Received February 21 2003)
(Revised April 5 2004)

c1 Dr Ewa Dabrowska, Department of English Language and Linguistics, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK. e-mail:


1 This study was supported by British Academy grant RB 100556; much of the research was conducted while the author was visiting the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. I would like to thank Ewa Borek, Mariola Buslawska, Malgorzata Ciolek, Ewa Czerlinska, Celina Kosmider, Malgorzata Michalak, and Bozena Plawska for their help in collecting the data; Barbara Dabrowska for organizational support throughout the duration of the project; and Marcin Szczerbinski, Tore Nesset and two anonymous JCL referees for their comments on an earlier draft of the paper. A very special and warm thanks goes to the children and young people from Zlobek nr 1, Przedszkole nr 81 and Szkola Podstawowa nr 70 in Gdansk who participated in the experiment. Part of the material discussed here was presented at the International Association for the Study of Child Language Symposium in Madison, Wisconsin in July 2002.