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The Language Hoax

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Language and Development in Africa

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Academic Paper


Title: Liaison acquisition, word segmentation and construction in French: a usage-based account
Author: Jean-Pierre Chevrot
Institution: Université Stendhal - Grenoble 3
Author: Celine Dugua
Institution: Université d'Orléans
Author: Michel Fayol
Institution: Université Blaise Pascal
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Phonology; Syntax
Subject Language: French
Abstract: In the linguistics field, liaison in French is interpreted as an indicator of interactions between the various levels of language organization. The current study examines the same issue while adopting a developmental perspective. Five experiments involving children aged two to six years provide evidence for a developmental scenario which interrelates a number of different issues: the acquisition of phonological alternations, the segmentation of new words, the long-term stabilization of the word form in the lexicon and the formation of item-based constructions. According to this scenario, children favour the presence of initial CV syllables when segmenting stored chunks of speech of the type word1-liaison-word2 (les arbres ‘the trees’ is segmented as /le/+/zarbr/). They cope with the variation of the liaison in the input by memorizing multiple exemplars of the same word2 (/zarbr/, /narbr/). They learn the correct relations between the word1s and the word2 exemplars through exposure to the well-formed sequence (un+/narbr/, deux+/zarbr/). They generalize the relation between a word1 and a class of word2 exemplars beginning with a specific liaison consonant by integrating this information into an item-based schema (e.g. un+/nX/, deux+/zX/). This model is based on the idea that the segmentation of new words and the development of syntactic schemas are two aspects of the same process.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 36, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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