15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

On the (Un)Markedness of Spirantization: Evidence from First Language Acquisition

Martin Rakow, Conxita Lleo

University of Hamburg, Germany

This study examines the production of voiced stops and their spirant counterparts by three monolingual Spanish, three monolingual German and three German-Spanish bilingual children (aged 1;3 to 3;0). The data on Spanish reveal high percentages of targetlike spirants from the earliest word productions. The early presence of spirants clearly reflects the process of spirantization in target Spanish, according to which underlying voiced stops are produced as spirants (or continuants) in certain contexts. However, it poses the question of markedness: It is widely believed that continuants are more marked than stops and should thus be acquired later. German children produce a negligible number of spirants. In the case of the Spanish of bilinguals, they begin with a degree of spirantization slightly lower than that of monolinguals, which is later further reduced. The theoretical implications of these findings both for first language acquisition and for bilingualism are discussed.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Rakow, Martin / Lleo, Conxita (2003): "On the (un)markedness of spirantization: evidence from first language acquisition", In ICPhS-15, 1025-1028.