Sex differences in past tense overregularization Academic Article uri icon


  • Hartshorne and Ullman (2006) presented naturalistic language data from 25 children (15 boys, 10 girls) and showed that girls produced more past tense overregularization errors than did boys. In particular, girls were more likely to overregularize irregular verbs whose stems share phonological similarities with regular verbs. It was argued that the result supported the Declarative/Procedural model of language, a neuropsychological analogue of the dual-route approach to language. In the current study we present experimental data that are inconsistent with these naturalistic data. Eighty children (40 males, 40 females) aged 5;0-6;9 completed a past tense elicitation task, a test of declarative memory, and a test of non-verbal intelligence. The results revealed no sex differences on any of the measures. Instead, the best predictors of overregularization rates were item-level features of the test verbs. We discuss the results within the context of dual versus single route debate on past tense acquisition.

publication date

  • November 2008