Accounting for variability in 2-year-olds' production of coda consonants

Cecilia Kirk, Katherine Demuth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

One of the challenges in child language research is determining when children have acquired a particular linguistic structure, and of particular interest is the identification of factors that contribute to variable performance. The purpose of the current study is to better understand the mechanisms underlying children's variable production of syllable-final (coda) consonants (e.g., moon). Fifteen 2-year-olds were asked to imitate novel words of different phonological shapes. Production accuracy was assessed by comparing coda consonant production in stressed versus unstressed syllables, in word-medial versus word-final syllables, in monosyllabic versus bisyllabic words, and also stop codas versus nasal codas. Children were most accurate at producing codas in monosyllables, and least likely to produce codas in medial unstressed syllables, with no systematic segmental effects. Because existing data cast doubt on purely perceptual accounts of the role of acoustic prominence, we argue that the longer durations of acoustically prominent syllables provide learners with more time to articulate coda consonants, thereby enhancing production accuracy. This article concludes with a discussion of the larger implications of variability in phonological development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-118
Number of pages22
JournalLanguage Learning and Development
Volume2
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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