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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Invariance of Effort in Child Speech Breathing as a 'Fast and Frugal' Heuristic for the Acquisition of Durational Phenomena in Stress-Accent Languages

Piers Messum

University College London, UK

We do not need to imagine children becoming sensitive to and then imitating the complex set of durational processes found in English (and other Germanic languages) in order to acquire them. English, like many other systems that must remain viable through successions of reproductive cycles, has straightforward solutions to its developmental challenges embedded within its structure.
   In particular, a child learner's response to the distinctive demands of stress-accent, implemented by a child's production system, generates many of the 'durational' phenomena that have resisted satisfactory explanation in terms of their timing.
   As a result, the phonetics of English becomes more coherent than previously considered.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Messum, Piers (2003): "Invariance of effort in child speech breathing as a 'fast and frugal' heuristic for the acquisition of durational phenomena in stress-accent languages", In ICPhS-15, 2007-2010.