eCite Digital Repository

Do beez buzz? Rule-based and frequency-based knowledge in learning to spell plural -s


Kemp, NM and Bryant, P, Do beez buzz? Rule-based and frequency-based knowledge in learning to spell plural -s, Child Development, 74, (1) pp. 63-74. ISSN 0009-3920 (2003) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1111/1467-8624.00521


There has been much discussion about whether certain aspects of human learning depend on the abstraction of rules or on the acquisition of frequency-based knowledge. It has usually been agreed, however, that the spelling of morphological patterns in English (e.g., past tense -ed) and other languages is based on the acquisition of morphological rules, and that these rules take a long time to learn. The regular plural -s ending seems to be an exception: Even young children can spell this correctly, even when it is pronounced / z / (as in bees). Reported here are 3 studies that show that 5- to 9-year-old children and adults do not usually base their spellings of plural real-word and pseudo-word endings on the morphological rule that all regular plurals are spelled with -s. Instead, participants appeared to use their knowledge of complex but untaught spelling patterns, which is based on the frequency with which certain letters co-occur in written English.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Applied and developmental psychology
Research Field:Psychology of ageing
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Kemp, NM (Associate Professor Nenagh Kemp)
ID Code:34406
Year Published:2003
Web of Science® Times Cited:88
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2005-07-27
Last Modified:2005-07-27

Repository Staff Only: item control page