Syllable Onsets Clusters and Adjuncts in Acquisition Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 1999
Syllable Onsets
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Judith A. Gierut
    Indiana University Bloomington
  • Contact author: Judith A. Gierut, PhD, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, 200 South Jordan Avenue, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405.
    Contact author: Judith A. Gierut, PhD, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, 200 South Jordan Avenue, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405.×
  • Corresponding author: E-mail: gierut@indiana.edu
Article Information
Development / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 1999
Syllable Onsets
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1999, Vol. 42, 708-726. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4203.708
History: Received April 22, 1998 , Accepted October 26, 1998
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1999, Vol. 42, 708-726. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4203.708
History: Received April 22, 1998; Accepted October 26, 1998

The Sonority Sequencing Principle is a presumed universal that governs the permissible sequences of consonants within syllables. In two single-subject experiments, we evaluated this principle as applied to the acquisition of onset clusters and adjuncts by children exhibiting functional phonological delays (age in years;months: 3;2 to 7;8). Experiment 1 tested the hypothesis that children abide by the Sonority Sequencing Principle in development, such that the occurrence and use of marked true clusters implies unmarked clusters, but not vice versa. This claim was validated, in part, by the gradient generalization learning patterns of children who were taught marked clusters. Others who were taught unmarked clusters exhibited limited learning characteristic of within-class generalization, with apparent gaps in sonority sequencing. Experiment 2 examined the role of adjunct sequences /sp, st, sk/, whose markedness status is questionable given their violation of the Sonority Sequencing Principle. Results indicated that children learned adjuncts consistent with patterns of within-class generalization, thereby supporting the view that these sequences are unmarked in structure. Experimental findings are integrated in discussion of the representation of onset clusters and their course of emergence in phonological acquisition relative to the Sonority Sequencing Principle.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported, in part, by a grant from the National Institutes of Health DC01694 to Indiana University. Dan Dinnsen and Jessica Barlow provided helpful commentary on an earlier version of this manuscript, as did Karla McGregor and the anonymous reviewers. The following students assisted with aspects of subject recruitment and treatment, interjudge reliability, and data management: Jessica Barlow, Annette Hust Champion, Lisa Kasch, Jill Kraft, Michele Morrisette, Naëmi So, and Laura Wilbur. Portions of this paper were reported at the 1997 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention and at the 1998 Boston University Conference on Language Development.
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