The structure of branching onsets and rising diphthongs

evidence from the acquisition of French and Spanish

Margaret Kehoe*, Geraldine Hilaire-Debove, Katherine Demuth, Conxita Lleó

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)


Consonant-glide-vowel (CGV) sequences are represented differently across languages. In some languages, the CG sequence is represented as a branching onset; in other languages, the GV sequence is represented as a rising diphthong. Given variable syllabification across languages, this study examines how young children represent CGV sequences. In particular, we evaluate Rose's (2000) proposal, based on French acquisition data, that CGV sequences are initially represented as rising diphthongs. To do this, we examined children's acquisition of CGV sequences in cross-sectional data from 14 French-speaking children (aged 1;10-2;10 years) and longitudinal data from five Spanish-speaking children (aged 1;3-3;0 years). Across several different measures (order of acquisition, style of acquisition, positional faithfulness, error patterns), children's production of rising diphthongs and branching onsets patterned similarly. The results suggest that at least for these children, CGV sequences are represented as branching onsets during the early stages of acquisition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-57
Number of pages53
JournalLanguage Acquisition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes

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