Journal of Child Language

Polish children's productivity with case marking: the role of regularity, type frequency, and phonological diversity 1

a1 University of Sheffield

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


57 Polish-speaking children aged from 2;4, to 4;8 and 16 adult controls participated in a nonce-word inflection experiment testing their ability to use the genitive, dative and accusative inflections productively. Results show that this ability develops early: the majority of two-year-olds were already productive with all inflections apart from dative neuter; and the overall performance of the four-year-olds was very similar to that of adults. All age groups were more productive with inflections that apply to large and/or phonologically diverse classes, although class size and token frequency appeared to be more important for younger children (two- and three-year-olds) and phonological diversity for older children and adults. Regularity, on the other hand, was a very poor predictor of productivity. The results support usage-based models of language acquisition and are problematic for the dual mechanism model.

(Published Online August 21 2006)
(Received March 3 2004)
(Revised August 30 2005)

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


1 We 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 Grzegorz Krajewski for his assistance with coding the corpus data. Very special and warm thanks go to the children from Zlobek nr 1 and Przedszkole nr 81 in Gdansk who participated in the experiment. This study was supported by British Academy grant RB 100556 awarded to the first author.