Maxine Ulyate


The purpose of the present research was to study the acquisition of the morphemes involved in the production of the noun plural and possessive, the present progressive tense, the third person singular of the verb and the regular past tense. Research had documented that a time lapse existed between the time that a child was able to correctly inflect a common English word and when he could correctly inflect a phonetically similar nonsense item. This lapse appeared to be the time during which the child formulated an internal rule for the production of each morpheme.

The methodology involved testing sixty children between the ages of three and four years eleven months. The subjects were then arranged into groups by six month age intervals. The children were each given a Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test to determine normal language development. They were then given a test consisting of 19 English words common to their vocabularies and were asked in inflect them using a sentence completion format. Upon completion of this test, the subjects were presented with 19 phonetically similar nonsense words to be inflected in the same manner. Both sets of test items were from those used by Newfield and Schlanger in their 1968 research.

The data was statistically analyzed by computing the number of children who correctly inflected the five morphemes on either of the subtests, or both. The results were then plotted on time series graphs. A binomial test was used to determine the significance of the proportion of children at each age level who achieved rule level at the .1 level of confidence. The items were also rank ordered by the number of correct responses for each of the five morphemes (with their allomorphic variation) to determine the order of acquisition of the morpheme forms and their rules for production. Finally, the time lapse was computed by finding the difference between the significant age of correct inflection of the English words and the significant age at which the corresponding nonsense words were inflected.

The results of the research indicated that a time lapse did exist between the age of correct inflection of the English words and that of the nonsense words. The time lapse was shown to vary from less than 6 months to more than eighteen months depending on the specific morpheme. One of the five morphemes studied, the past tense, was not able to be charted since there was not a significant number of children at any age who were able to inflect either the English or the corresponding nonsense word correctly.

LLU Discipline

Speech Pathology


Speech-Language Pathology


Graduate School

First Advisor

Jean B. Lowry

Second Advisor

Robert A. Stretter

Third Advisor

Elisabeth Ann Ware

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Morphemics; Children -- Language



Page Count

iv; 47

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website


Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives