The acquisition of morphology: Learning the contribution of suffixes to the meanings of derivatives

William E. Nagy, Irene Anna N. Diakidoy, Richard C. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study explored the development of students’ knowledge of the meanings of 10 common English suffixes. A test was constructed to assess students’ knowledge of the contribution of suffixes to the meanings of derivatives. Students were asked to choose which of several sentences correctly used a suffixed word. The suffixed words consisted of novel combinations of familiar stems and suffixes (e.g., butterless). Students were also tested on parallel items using familiar nonsuffixed words. The test was administered to 630 fourth-grade, seventh-grade, and high school students. Knowledge of the meanings of common English suffixes was found to undergo significant development between fourth grade and high school. Even in high school, however, there were some students who showed little knowledge of the meanings of these suffixes. The test identified students who have particular difficulties with English suffixes, and thus it has potential as a diagnostic tool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-170
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Literacy Research
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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