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Book: Phonology in Protolanguage and Interlanguage

Chapter: 4. Acquired Singleton Fricatives and Lateral in Cluster Development: A Bilingual Child Case

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.31676


The chapter investigates the acquisition of fricative-lateral consonant clusters in child developmental speech longitudinally with a focus on clusters whose members have been acquired in singleton contexts. Specifically, the study investigates patterns in the acquisition of labial fricatives (C1) clustering with the alveolar lateral (C2), i.e. /fl, vl/, at syllable onsets in a bilingual child’s speech in Greek and English across the span of 17 months of her phonological development, starting at age 2;7. Comparisons with the child’s /sl/ in English are included where pertinent, since /sl/ is the only other targeted cluster in the child’s bilingualism satisfying the research criterion. Dense, longitudinal data on the child’s naturalistic cluster production were elicited during daily interaction with the author, who entered the child’s full utterances orthographically and phonetically in CLAN (MacWhinney 2000). The study provides a fresh insight into developmental speech by investigating cluster acquisition in detailed data longitudinally, re-examining developmental stages, paths, and processes under the new perspective considered, and utilizing the single-subject methodology in bilingualism to investigate production disparity that emanates from differences in phonotactic distributions in the languages studied. The study reveals that known stages and processes in cluster development are not challenged by the new criterion, though still shown to be tempered by idiosyncratic tendencies. The acquisition level of singletons in the targeted contexts plays a role that is both facilitative and obsolete in the process of cluster acquisition. Furthermore, a propensity towards non-targeted complexity and markedness in the child’s speech is evidenced alongside the known tendency towards simplified productions.

Chapter Contributors

  • Elena Babatsouli ( - ebabatsouli) 'Institute of Monolingual and Bilingual Speech'