Errors of Overregularization

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Errors of overregularization is a common error that Marcus (1996) proposes to stem from the existence of mental rules denoted by the acquisition of a rule, the lexicon store through memory of past tense forms and the an irregularity always is superior to the acquired rule. The paper states four types of evidence where overregularization may not be explained by the draw towards regular stem-past pairs. In analyzing this piece of literature, we have to be aware of the limitations of this paper. The question that strikes me is whether there are other factors (moderating or mediating factors) to explain the weak correlation between overcoming overregularization and the child’s increase in vocabulary. One possible explanation is having a “stand-out” effect - meaning that although the frequency that the irregular word is presented to the child may be low, the word may be differently perceived by the child and may carry a higher weight and hence, more deeply embedded in the lexicon store, compared to other words with similar frequency. Also, we have to be aware that this paper has only observed four cases and these four cases may not be representative of the population.

The development of overregularization as observed by Marcus seems to move away towards the U-shaped model, but towards a fluctuation of many U-shaped curves. Although this paper states there in no concrete stage in which children completely replace correct forms with overregularizations, but I feel that there are certain milestones that we can observe. Children will most likely pass through a stage where the child learns the whole word, as described in chapter 1 of Goldin-Meadow (2003) and then deteriorate as they apply the rule. This is similar to the step-wise process that deaf children undertake - gestures may be learnt as an unanalyzed whole and later, pried into different components and which they would use later to regularize. What is interesting to note though, is how applicable the type...
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