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The English genitive apostrophe: judgements of errors and implications for teaching

Garrett, Peter Donald and Austin, C. 1993. The English genitive apostrophe: judgements of errors and implications for teaching. Language Awareness 2 (3) , pp. 61-75. 10.1080/09658416.1993.9959821

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The origins of the English Genitive Apostrophe (EGA) are relatively recent, and there is evidence of considerable variation in its use by native speakers. The prescriptive rules aimed at teachers and learners are frequently not followed in written English in the natural language environment. 15 German undergraduates of English, 15 UK undergraduates of English, and 15 postgraduate EFL teacher trainees in the UK were asked to identify and grade three categories of EGA errors made by native speakers. These categories were the omission of the EGA (e.g. mens fashions), the inclusion of EGA before the word final's’ in regular plural nouns (e.g. old telephone's), and the use of EGA with third person pronouns (e.g. her's). It is concluded that those judges exposed to explicit rules of EGA usage recognised more errors and judged them more severely. Results also showed that the three EGA error categories were evaluated with differing gravity. This paper suggests that with the EGA, the input coming at acquirers from the natural language environment may be so inconsistent or at variance with the prescriptive rules that deductive or controlled discovery teaching approaches appear more likely to lead to the acquisition of these rules.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 0965-8416
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 09:30

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