Over-generalization (linguistics)

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Over-generalization , also over-regularization , means in linguistics that a language form is formed regularly, but unusually, on the model of one or more other language forms. The term is used particularly frequently in language didactics and in language acquisition research. Over-generalizations also come about when a speaker / writer wants to use an expression whose possible uses he does not know or does not know with sufficient certainty.

Over-generalization in language acquisition

Over-generalization is particularly noticeable in children who are in the process of learning their mother tongue . It will take them a while to master the vocabulary and rules systems to the point where they can use them safely and appropriately. In the development phase, in which this stage has not yet been reached, over-generalizations can frequently be observed. We hear again and again that children confuse strong (“irregular”) verbs with weak (“regular”) verbs . As a result, they use shapes such as “flew” or “drank”. Els Oksaar , who goes into detail about over-generalization and ascribes a "system-building effect" to them, quotes the sentence: "Grandpa sat and read as a further example."

The same phenomenon occurs with nouns when it comes to using them in the plural . Hans Ramge reports about his son, who gradually learns one plural ending after the other and generalizes them again and again, also different forms side by side at the same time, e.g. B. "Wheels" next to "Rade" and "Räders".

Over-generalization as a general speaking strategy

Over-generalization is not just limited to children of language learning age. Rather, it is a strategy that all people occasionally follow when they want or need to use an expression and do not know its usage rules. In such cases, analogy or the transfer of rules lead to over-generalization.

Hypercorrection and over-generalization

Hypercorrection is a phenomenon that is sometimes viewed as a form of over-generalization. In Helmut Glück's article “Over-generalization”, for example, one finds a reference to “Hypercorrection” in such a way that “Hypercorrection” is given as one of the meanings of “Overgeneralization”.

Hypercorrection is also used for incorrect forms of speech; In contrast to “over-generalization”, however, a special social aspect is associated with this: hyper-correct forms are caused by the fact that someone wants to adapt linguistically to a form of language that is considered exemplary and thereby “overshoots the goal”.

Over-generalization in other areas

In addition to language acquisition, there are other areas in which one speaks of over-generalization, e.g. B. in logic or when using artificial neural networks .

Web links

Wiktionary: Over-generalization  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Jörg Meibauer et al .: Introduction to German linguistics. 2007, ISBN 978-3-476-02141-0 , limited preview in Google Book Search
  2. ^ Els Oksaar: Language acquisition in preschool age. Introduction to pedolinguistics. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1977, ISBN 3-17-004471-0 , pp. 198f.
  3. Hans Ramge: Language acquisition. Basics of language development of the child. 2nd, revised edition. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1975, ISBN 3-484-25016-X , pp. 68ff.
  4. ^ Helmut Glück (ed.), With the assistance of Friederike Schmöe : Metzler Lexikon Sprach. 3rd, revised edition. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2005, ISBN 3-476-02056-8 .