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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.

CUP at LINGUIST

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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