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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

New from Cambridge University Press!


Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: Error patterns in young German children's wh-questions*
Author: Daniel Schmerse
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Author: Elena V. Lieven
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Author: Michael Tomasello
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Abstract: In this article we report two studies: a detailed longitudinal analysis of errors in wh-questions from six German-learning children (age 2 ; 0–3 ; 0) and an analysis of the prosodic characteristics of wh-questions in German child-directed speech. The results of the first study demonstrate that German-learning children frequently omit the initial wh-word. A lexical analysis of wh-less questions revealed that children are more likely to omit the wh-word was (‘what’) than other wh-words (e.g. wo ‘where’). In the second study, we performed an acoustic analysis of sixty wh-questions that one mother produced during her child's third year of life. The results show that the wh-word was is much less likely to be accented than the wh-word wo, indicating a relationship between children's omission of wh-words and the stress patterns associated with wh-questions. The findings are discussed in the light of discourse–pragmatic and metrical accounts of omission errors.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 40, Issue 3.

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