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|Question:||When infants begin babbling, the first sounds after vowels are usually the stops. First of those are the labials. Because they are very productive in world languages, [b], [p], and [d] are usually the first. In Greek, [b] and [d] are infrequent phones. In fact, there are no letters for these phones; instead, combinations are made: μπ for [b] and ντ for [d]. Does this mean, then, that Greek babies, when they begin babbling, do not begin with the sounds [b] and [d]? And if they do, is that just further proof that much of language acquisition is innate and there is some sort of Universal Grammar?|
|Reply:||In Modern Greek, as you say, the voiced stops [b d] are infrequent. But so far as I know (I am no expert on child language) the claim is that labial stops tend to be some of the first consonants produced by children – not voiced labial stops in particular. Modern Greek surely does have plenty of labial stops, [p], and also [m] if nasal consonants are counted as "stops" (and in connexion with child speech they surely ought to be, they are also produced early). Geoffrey Sampson|
|Reply From:||Geoffrey Richard Sampson click here to access email|