Word prosody in early child Catalan, Spanish and English

Lluïsa Astruc, Elinor Payne, Brechtje Post, Pilar Prieto, Maria del Mar Vanrell, The Open University

The goal of this paper is to examine the acquisition of the metrical patterns of the target language in early child vs. adult speech. There is some preliminary evidence for the existence of crosslinguistic and developmental differences. We recorded 36 children; 12 English, 12 Catalan, and 12 Spanish, aged 2, 4 and 6 and their mothers to compare the acquisition of increasingly complex prosodic forms (S, WS, SW, WSW, SWW, WWS, SWSW) in the children’s speech to the adult target provided by their mothers, both elicited with a controlled naming task. We quantified the prosodic patterns produced and also the omissions of weakly stressed syllables (truncation) as has been shown in the literature that this correlates with prosodic development but may also differ crosslinguistically.