|Title:||First Steps in the Acquisition of German Phonology: A Case Study|
|Authors:||Janet Grijzenhout, Sandra Joppen|
|Abstract:||First Steps in the Acquisition of German Phonology: A Case Study
Janet Grijzenhout & Sandra Joppen
The first words in child speech supposedly have a CV-structure
(e.g., Jakobson 1941/68) and they are thus characterised by the
presence of an onset. In this paper, we will present evidence
against this assumption. In the speech of Naomi - the German child
that we examined - we found that between the ages of 1;2;6 and 1,5;01
each word contains at least and at most one consonantal place of
articulation. It is striking that the consonant in question may but
must not be initial. We argue that previous accounts of the
acquisition of syllable structure (e.g. Fikkert 1994) cannot be right
and that the facts are best captured by an analysis that uses the
correspondence version of Optimality Theory (McCarthy & Prince 1995).
We will formulate a constraint that says that every word should have
a consonantal place of articulation (C-Place). The constraint called
ONSET, which says that syllables must have a consonant in onset
position, never plays a prominent role in German child speech.
We will also show that Naomi does not realise fricatives at the
earliest stage of acquisition. Later, she replaces word-initial
fricatives by voiced stops and we will formulte constraints that
help to explain that the best output for a word which has an initial
fricative in the adult form, is a word which has an initial voiced
stop. These constraints are satisfied in words which begin in stops,
nasals, or /l/. A condition against inserting material (formulated
as 'DEP I-O' by McCarthy & Prince 1995) seems to be inviolable.
From 1;6;05, Naomi realises stops and approximants instead of
fricatives (e.g. fertig --> 'jatig, 'datig (1;7:16, 1;7:27) 'ready').
This suggests to us that faithfulness conditions such as 'realise the
input feature [+continuant]' (IDENTITY [+cont]) begin to play a more
prominent role. We aim to show that at the initial word-stage, each
position in the word has its own preferences for particular
phonological features and that gradually, preference laws begin to be
outranked by faithfulness conditions on separate features.