The prosodic (re)organization of children's early English articles

Katherine Demuth*, Elizabeth McCullough

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Researchers have long been puzzled by children's variable omission of grammatical morphemes, often attributing this to a lack of semantic or syntactic competence. Recent studies suggest that some of this variability may be due to phonological constraints. This paper explored this issue further by conducting a longitudinal study of five English-speaking one- to two-year-olds' acquisition of articles. It found that most children were more likely to produce articles when these could be produced as part of a disyllabic foot. However, acoustic analysis revealed that one child initially produced all articles as independent prosodic words. These findings confirm that some of the variable production of articles is conditioned by constraints on children's early phonologies, providing further support for the Prosodic Licensing Hypothesis. They also hold important implications for our understanding of the emergence of syntactic knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-200
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Child Language
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes

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