Learning about different ways of expressing number in the development of Palestinian arabic

Dorit Ravid, Lubna Hayek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The paper describes the acquisition of three number categories - sound feminine noun plurals, duals, collectives - in a dialect of Palestinian Arabic spoken in the north of Israel. The study population consisted of 58 children aged 3;6-4;6, 5;0-6;0, 6;0-7;0, and 7;0-8;0, all monolingual speakers of Palestinian Arabic as their mother tongue. Thirty noun stimuli denoting fruits and vegetables familiar to young children were presented in pictures to elicit plural, dual and collective forms. Analysis of the correct results showed two different acquisition patterns: clear development in production of sound feminine nouns and dual nouns, and no increase above the initial 50% in producing collective nouns. Dual contexts elicited constructions preceded by the numeral 'two'. Collectives and sound feminine plurals tended to replace each other. The study highlights children's perception of noun reference through their learning of how to express number distinctions in a sparsely investigated language that challenges its speakers by marking number in multiple and often opaque ways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-63
Number of pages23
JournalFirst Language
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003


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