Developmental variation in children's acquisition of metrical structure: How early treatment of stressless syllables can inform phonological theory

Clifford S. Jones, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

The present study uses 26 color photos to elicit a total of 14 words conforming to a very specific pattern: a stressless syllable word-initially, followed by a stressed syllable, and at most one more stressless syllable. This was found to be a particularly difficult metrical structure for the two- and three-year old participants to produce in an adult-like manner. Based on the findings that a fairly reliable (if language-particular) order of acquisition is observable for contrasts of both place and manner of articulation, the case is made for a system of six emergent features, which may be characterized as combinable phonological elements. The predictive power of such elements is best exploited when they are arranged into a specific, psychologically plausible order of acquisition. When properly ordered, these emergent elements are capable of explaining a great deal of the observed phonological variation. ^

Subject Area

Language, Linguistics|Psychology, Developmental|Psychology, Cognitive

Recommended Citation

Jones, Clifford S., "Developmental variation in children's acquisition of metrical structure: How early treatment of stressless syllables can inform phonological theory" (2010). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1479512.
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI1479512

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