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