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Academic Paper

Title: The relation between order of acquisition, segmental frequency and function: the case of word-initial consonants in Dutch
Author: Lieve Van Severen
Institution: University of Antwerp
Author: Joris J. M. Gillis
Institution: Universiteit Hasselt
Author: Inge Molemans
Institution: University of Antwerp
Author: Renate van den Berg
Institution: University of Antwerp
Author: Sven De Maeyer
Institution: Universiteit Antwerpen
Author: Steven Gillis
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Antwerp
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Subject Language: Dutch
Abstract: The impact of input frequency (IF) and functional load (FL) of segments in the ambient language on the acquisition order of word-initial consonants is investigated. Several definitions of IF/FL are compared and implemented. The impact of IF/FL and their components are computed using a longitudinal corpus of interactions between thirty Dutch-speaking children (age range: 0 ; 6–2 ; 0) and their primary caretaker(s). The corpus study reveals significant correlations between IF/FL and acquisition order. The highest predictive values are found for the token frequency of segments, and for FL computed on minimally different word types in child-directed speech. Although IF and FL significantly correlate, they do have a different impact on the order of acquisition of word-initial consonants. When the impact of IF is partialed out, FL still has a significant correlation with acquisition order. The reverse is not true, suggesting that the acquisition of word-initial consonants is mainly influenced by their discriminating function.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 40, Issue 4, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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