Analogy is Indispensable but Rule is a Must: Insights From Turkish
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Inflectional morphology provides a unique platform for a discussion of whether morphological productivity is rule-based or analogy-based. The present study testing 140 children (range = 29 to 97 months; M(SD) = 64.1(18.8)) on an elicited production task investigated the acquisition of the irregular distribution in the Turkish aorist. Results suggested that to discover the allomorphs of the Turkish aorist, children initially carried out similarity comparisons between analogous exemplars, which helped them tap into phonological features to induce generalizations for regulars and irregulars. Thereafter to tackle the irregularity, children entertained competing hypotheses yielding overregularizations and irregularizations. While the trajectory of overregularizations implicated the gradual formulation of an abstraction based on type-frequency, irregularizations suggested both intrusion of analogous exemplars and children's attempts to default to an erroneous micro-generalization. Our findings supported a model of morphological learning that is driven by analogy at the outset and that invokes rule-induction in later stages.