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Book: Optimality Theory, Phonological Acquisition and Disorders

Chapter: 9 The prominence paradox

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.21489


Phonological contrasts tend to be preserved or enhanced in prominent contexts and are often merged or lost in weak contexts. One issue for the continuity hypothesis is whether children and adults treat prominent contexts in the same way. This chapter addresses this question by documenting what appears to be a prominence paradox: Fully developed languages preserve contrasts in one set of contexts, but children tend to acquire those contrasts first in the complementary

set of contexts.

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