Coining Compounds and Derivations - A Crosslinguistic Elicitation Study of Word-Formation Abilities of Preschool Children and Adults in Polish and English
This paper examines word-formation abilities in coining compounds and derivatives in preschool children and adult speakers of two languages (English and Polish) differing in overall word-formation productivity and in favoring of particular word-formation patterns (compounding vs. derivation). An elicitation picture naming task was designed to assess these abilities across a range of word-formation categories. Adult speakers demonstrated well-developed word-formation skills in patterns both typical and non-typical for their native language. In contrast with adult results, preschool children predominantly coined innovations conforming to the general pattern of their language: Polish children favoring derivation and American children favoring compounding. The results show that although children are improving their wordformation skills during the preschool years, they need much more experience to come to the mature proficiency in using the variety of word-formation patterns available in their language.