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The Acquisition of /s/ + Consonant Onset Clusters: A Longitudinal Study


The Acquisition of /s/ + Consonant Onset Clusters: A Longitudinal Study

Hefter, Helen (2012) The Acquisition of /s/ + Consonant Onset Clusters: A Longitudinal Study. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Hefter_MA_S2012.pdf - Accepted Version


The purpose of this research was to establish a developmental path for the acquisition of word-initial homorganic /s/ + consonant clusters (#sC), namely /st-/, /sn-/, and /sl-/ and, consequently, to determine which two hypotheses (one based on input frequency and one on sonority markedness) would better account for the path of #sC acquisition observed in the speech of one English speaking child between the ages of 2;3 and 3;10. The developmental path of #sC clusters was charted longitudinally using a triangulation of methodologies: (1) controlled (audio recorded) elicitations of pseudo-words (via finger-puppet interactions and role-playing involving fictitious characters whose names start with #sC; e.g., Sleed, Snib, Steeg), (2) recordings of child-directed speech (representing the input to which the child is exposed), and (3) a language observation journal. The results from the input corpus showed that, despite the significantly high rate of the SSP-violating #sC cluster (i.e., /st-/) in the speech surrounding the child, input frequency did not provide a satisfactory explanation for the sequence of acquisition, contrary to what a frequency-based account predicts (e.g., Bybee, 2001). Rather, the evidence provided by both the puppet elicitation task and the observation journal suggests a correlation between the order of #sC acquisition and the predictions made by the Sonority Sequencing Principle (SSP: Clements, 1991). Implications for the advancement of research on the acquisition of syllable structure are also discussed.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Hefter, Helen
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Applied Linguistics
Date:14 April 2012
Thesis Supervisor(s):Cardoso, Walcir
ID Code:973822
Deposited On:19 Jun 2012 17:58
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:37
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