Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-5d6d958fb5-9cwrl Total loading time: 0.332 Render date: 2022-11-29T07:09:10.323Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": false, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true

Acquisition of adjectives in Quebec French as revealed by elicitation data

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 April 2010

Université de Montréal Centre hospitalier universitaire Ste-Justine Centre for research on Language Mind and Brain
Université de Montréal Institut des Sciences Cognitives
Address for correspondence: Phaedra Royle, Université de Montréal, Faculté de médecine, École d'orthophonie et d'audiologie, C.P. 6128, Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, (Québec), H3C 3J7, Canada e-mail:


This study presents data from an elicitation study on French size and color adjectives in noun phrases (DPs), both early acquired structures. Thirty-two francophone children aged 3–5 years participated in the study. Adjectives were elicited using specially designed puzzles and spontaneous speech corpora. We observed that errors in French variable adjectives are produced in the early acquisition stages, especially in the context of feminine colour DPs. We propose that the source of difficulty for feminine variable adjectives is the retrieval of a lexicalized form that competes with the masculine adjective denoting the same concept.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Aronoff, M. (1976). Word Formation in Generative Grammar. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Balconi, M. and Pozzoli, U. (2005). Comprehending semantic and grammatical violations in Italian. N400 and P600 comparison with visual and auditory stimuli. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 34.1: 7198.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Barber, H. and Carreiras, M. (2003). Integrating gender and number information in Spanish word pairs: An ERP study. Cortex, 39.1: 465482.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bassano, D. and Maillochon, I. (1994). Early grammatical and prosodic marking of utterance modality in French: A longitudinal case study. Journal of Child Language, 21: 649675.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bedore, L. M. and Leonard, L. B. (2001). Grammatical morphology deficits in Spanish-speaking children with specific language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 44.1: 905924.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bertram, R., Schreuder, R. and Baayen, R. H. (2000). The balance of storage and computation in morphological processing: The role of word formation type, affixal homonymy and productivity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 26.2: 123.Google ScholarPubMed
Bertram, R., Laine, M. and Virkkala, M. M. (2000). The role of derivational morphology in vocabulary acquisition. Get by with a little help from my morpheme friends. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 41: 287296.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Brysbaert, M. and Ghyselinck, M. (2006). The effect of age of acquisition: Partly frequency related, partly frequency independent. Visual Cognition, 13.7–8: 9921011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Burani, C. and Caramazza, A. (1987). Representation and processing of derived words. Language and Cognitive Processes, 2: 217227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bybee, J. L. and Slobin, D. I. (1982). Rules and schemas in the development and use of the English past tense. Language, 58.2: 265289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Clahsen, H. and Rothweiler, M. (1992). Inflectional rules in children's grammars: Evidence from German participles. Yearbook of Morphology, 1.34: 255288.Google Scholar
Comrie, B. (1999). Grammatical gender systems: A linguist's assessment. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 28.5: 457466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Cat, C. and Plunkett, B. (2002). QU'est ce qu’ i(l) dit, celui+là ? Notes méthodologiques sur la transcription d'un corpus francophone. In: Pusch, C. D. and Raible, W. (eds), Romanistische Korpuslinguistik: Korpora und gesprochene Sprache/Romance Corpus Linguistics: Corpora and Spoken Language. Tübingen: Narr, CD-rom.Google Scholar
Demestre, J., Meltzer, S., García-Albea, J. E. and Vigil, A. (1999). Identifying the null subject: Evidence from event-related brain potentials. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 28: 293312.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Desrochers, A., Paivio, A. and Desrochers, S. (1989). L'effet de la fréquence d'usage des noms inanimés et de la valeur prédictive de leur terminaison sur l'identification du genre grammatical. Canadian Journal of Psychology Revue Canadienne de Psychologie, 43.1: 6273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dunn, L., Thériault-Whalen, C. and Dunn, L. M. (1993). Échelle de vocabulaire en images Peabody. Toronto: Psycan.Google Scholar
Elin Thordardottir, (2005). Early lexical and syntactic development in Quebec French and English: Implications for cross-linguistic and bilingual assessment. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 40.3: 243278.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Fink, R. (1985). French adjective morphophonemic patterns: Their generalization and representation. Linguistics, 23: 567596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goodman, J. C., Dale, P. S. and Li, P. (2008). Does frequency count? Parental input and the acquisition of vocabulary. Journal of Child Language, 35.3: 515531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hagoort, P. and Brown, C. M. (1999). Gender electrified: ERP evidence on the syntactic nature of gender processing. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 28.6: 715728.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Herschensohn, J. (1993). Applying linguistics to teach morphology: Verb and adjective inflection in French. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 31.2: 97112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Juhasz, B. J. (2005). Age-of-acquisition effects in word and picture identification. Psychological Bulletin, 131.5: 684712.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kim, J. J., Marcus, G. F., Pinker, S., Hollander, M. and Coppola, M. (1994). Sensitivity of children's inflection to grammatical structure. Journal of Child Language, 21.1: 173209.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Leonard, L., Salameh, E.-K. and Hansson, K. (2001). Noun phrase morphology in Swedish-speaking children with specific language impairment. Applied Psycholinguistics, 22: 619639.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Marchman, V. A. and Bates, E. (1991). Vocabulary size and composition as predictors of morphological development. Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, 30: 6471.Google Scholar
Marchman, V. A. and Bates, E. (1994). Continuity in lexical and morphological development: A test of the Critical Mass Hypothesis. Journal of Child Language, 21.2: 339366.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Marcus, G. F. (2001) The Algebraic Mind: Integrating Connectionism and Cognitive Science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Marcus, G. F., Brinkmann, U., Clahsen, H., Wiese, R. and Pinker, S. (1995). German inflection: the exception that proves the rule. Cognitive Psychology, 29: 189256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Marcus, G. F., Pinker, S., Ullman, M., Hollander, M., Rosen, T. J. and Xu, F. (1992). Overregularization in language acquisition. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 57.4, (serial No. 228).CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Matsuo, A. and Eisenbeiss, S. (2003). Acquisition of case in German and Japanese. Paper presented at the 3-place Predicate Workshop, Max Planck Institute, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, 14–16 May.Google Scholar
Miller, J. and Chapman, R. (1984–2002). Systemic Analysis of Language Transcripts: Software for Analyzing English and Spanish Language Samples. Madison, WI: Language Analysis Laboratory, University of Wisconsin-Madison.Google Scholar
Nelson, D. (2005). French gender assignment revisited. Word, 56.1: 1938.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
New, B., Pallier, C., Brysbaert, M. and Ferrand, L. (2004). Lexique 2: A new French lexical database. Behaviour Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 36.3: 516524.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Paradis, C. and El Fenne, F. (1995). French verbal inflection revisited: constraints, repairs and floating consonants. Lingua, 19: 169204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Picard, M. (1996). The Empty Onset Principle: A problematic phonological constraint. Revue québecoise de linguistique théorique et appliquée, 13.1–4: 195201.Google Scholar
Pinker, S. (1999). Words and Rules. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
Pinker, S. and Prince, A. (1994). Regular and irregular morphology and the psychological status of rules of grammar. In Lima, S. D., Corrigan, R. L and Iverson, G. K. (eds), The Reality of Linguistic Rules. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 321351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pirvulescu, M. and Belzil, I. (2008). The acquisition of past-participle agreement in Québec French L1. Language Acquisition, 15.2: 7588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Roid, G. and Miller, L. (1996). The Leiter International Performance Scale-Revised. Dale, IL: Wood Stoelting Co.Google Scholar
Roulet-Amiot, L. and Jakubovicz, C. (2006). Production and perception of gender agreement in French SLI. Advances in Speech-Language Pathology, 8.4: 335346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Royle, P. (2007). Variable effects of morphology and frequency on inflection patterns of French preschoolers. The Mental Lexicon Journal, 2.1: 103125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Royle, P. (2005–2008). Outils morphosyntaxiques pour le dépistage de la dysphasie chez les jeunes francophones, FQRSC 2006-NP-104790.Google Scholar
Royle, P., Vial, M. and Valois, D. (accepted). The acquisition of concord in French and Spanish Determiner Phrases, two elicitation experiments. Revista de la Asociación Española de Lingüística Aplicada.Google Scholar
Royle, P. and Elin Thordardottir, (2008). Elicitation of the perfect past in French pre-schoolers with and without SLI. Applied Psycholinguistics, 29.3: 241265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Say, T. and Clahsen, H. (2002). Words, rules and stems in the Italian mental lexicon. In: Nooteboom, S., Weerman, F. and Wijnen, F. (eds), Storage and Computation in the Language Faculty. Dordrecht: Kluwer, pp. 93129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
St-Pierre, M.-C. (2006). Traitement auditif, traitement phonologique et acquisition de la morphologie dans la dyslexie développementale. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Université de Montréal.Google Scholar
Stockall, L. and Marantz, A. (2006). A single route, full decomposition model of morphological complexity: MEG evidence. The Mental Lexicon, 1.1: 85193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tomasello, M. (2002). The emergence of grammar in early child language. In: Givon, T. and Malle, B. F. (eds), The Evolution of Language out of Pre-language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 309328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tranel, B. (2000). Aspects de la phonologie du Français et la théorie de l'optimalité. Langue française, 126: 3972.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Trudeau, N., Poulin-Dubois, D., Frank, I., Courcy, A. and Sutton, A. (2008). Normalisation et validation de la version québécoise des MacArthur Communicative Development Inventories (MCDI): Université de Montréal.Google Scholar
Valois, D., Royle, P., Bourdua-Roy, E. and Sutton, A. (2009). Étude transversale de l'ellipse du nom en français et le rôle des données de l'acquisition pour la théorie linguistique. Revue canadienne de linguistique/Canadian Journal of Linguistics, 54.5: 339366.Google Scholar
Valois, D. and Royle, P. (2009). Partitivity, atomization, and Noun-Drop: A longitudinal study of French child language. Language Acquisition, 16.2: 82105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wicha, N. Y. Y., Moreno, E. M. and Kutas, M. (2003). Expecting gender: An event related brain potential study on the role of grammatical gender in comprehending a line drawing within a written sentence in Spanish. Cortex, 39.3: 483508.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Acquisition of adjectives in Quebec French as revealed by elicitation data
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Acquisition of adjectives in Quebec French as revealed by elicitation data
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Acquisition of adjectives in Quebec French as revealed by elicitation data
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *