Dutch plural inflection: The exception that proves the analogy

Emmanuel Keuleers, Dominiek Sandra, Walter Daelemans, Steven Gillis, Gert Durieux, Evelyn Martens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


We develop the view that inflection is driven partly by non-phonological analogy and that nonphonological information is of particular importance to the inflection of non-canonical roots, which in the view of [Marcus, G. F., Brinkmann, U., Clahsen, H., Wiese, R., & Pinker, S. (1995). German inflection: the exception that proves the rule. Cognitive Psychology, 29, 189-256.] are inflected by a symbolic rule process. We used the Dutch plural to evaluate these claims. An analysis of corpus data shows that a model using non-phonological information (orthography) produces significantly fewer errors on plurals of non-canonical Dutch nouns, in particular borrowings, than a model that includes only phonological information. Moreover, we show that a double default system, as proposed by Pinker [Pinker, S. (1999). Words and rules. London: Phoenix.], does not offer an advantage over the latter model. A second study, examining the use of orthography in an online plural production task, shows that, in Dutch, the chosen pseudoword plural is significantly affected by non-phonological information. A final simulation study confirms that these results are in line with a model of inflectional morphology that explains the inflection of non-canonical roots by non-phonological analogy instead of by a default rule process. (C) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-318
Number of pages36
JournalCognitive Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • dual mechanism model
  • memory based learning
  • default
  • rules
  • similarity
  • analogy
  • inflection
  • Dutch plural
  • non-canonical roots
  • morphology


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