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Induction and the acquisition of English auxiliaries: the effects of differentially enriched input*

  • Marilyn Shatz (a1), Erika Hoff-Ginsberg (a2) and Douglas Maciver (a3)


Children aged 2;0 to 2;6 participated in a longitudinal study examining their acquisition of the English auxiliary system following a six-week period in which they were exposed to additional auxiliary input in varying sentence contexts. Groups of children received enrichment utterances with the auxiliary could either in first position in the sentence, in middle position, or in both positions. Children in the front position group were significantly advanced over the other experimental groups in acquiring modal auxiliaries but not non-modals. However, none of the experimental groups differed significantly from a baseline group which received no additional could input. The implications of these findings for understanding the mechanisms of auxiliary acquisition and the nature of children's grammatical categories are discussed.


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Human Performance Center, 330 Packard Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, USA.


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This research was supported in part by NIMH grant MH30996 to the first author and by NIH traineeships to the second and third authors under grant HD07109. We thank Melissa Bowerman and Susan Gelman for helpful comments on an earlier version of the paper.



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Induction and the acquisition of English auxiliaries: the effects of differentially enriched input*

  • Marilyn Shatz (a1), Erika Hoff-Ginsberg (a2) and Douglas Maciver (a3)


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