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Academic Paper


Title: Phonotactics and morphophonology in early child language: Evidence from Dutch
Author: Tania S. Zamuner
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://www.psych.ubc.ca/~tzamuner/
Institution: University of British Columbia
Author: Annemarie Kerkhoff
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://www.let.uu.nl/~Annemarie.Kerkhoff/personal/
Institution: Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS
Author: Paula Fikkert
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: Dutch
Abstract: This research investigates children's knowledge of how surface pronunciations of lexical items vary according to their phonological and morphological context. Dutch-learning children aged 2.5 and 3.5 years were tested on voicing neutralization and morphophonological alternations. For instance, voicing does not alternate between the pair [pɛt]~[pɛtən] (cap~caps) but does in [bɛt]~[bɛdən] (bed~beds). Data from the first experiment showed that children at a younger age were less accurate at imitating words with /d/ than /t/, regardless of morphological context. In a second study, children between 2 and 4 years were asked to produce singulars from novel plurals (e.g., [kɛtən]~[kɛt] and [kɛdən]~[kɛt]). Results indicated that children's performance was better in contexts that did not require surface variation. Dutch-learning children are not able to robustly generalize their knowledge of phonotactics and morphophonological alternations. Rather, it appears that their knowledge is more concrete, in line with recent usage-based theories of acquisition.

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This article appears IN Applied Psycholinguistics Vol. 33, Issue 3.

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