Phonological Templates in Development

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The book explores the role of phonological templates in early language use, from the perspective of usage-based phonology and exemplar models and within the larger developmental framework of Dynamic Systems Theory. The book provides a procedure for identifying templates, illustrated with analyses of the very first words and their adult targets as well as the later prosodic structures and templates of several children each learning one of six languages (American and British English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Italian and Welsh); there are also briefer accounts of templates in Arabic and Brazilian Portuguese. The children are found to begin with ‘selected’ words that match the vocal forms practiced in babbling; this is followed by the production of more challenging adult word forms, adapted - differently by different children and with some shaping by the adult language - to fit the child’s existing word forms. Early accuracy is replaced by later recourse to an ‘inner model’ (a template) of a favoured word shape. The timing, fading, quantification and function of child phonological templates are also considered. In addition, two chapters focus on the use of templates in adult language, in the core grammar and in the more creative morphology of colloquial ‘short forms’ and hypocoristics (in French and Estonian) and of English rhyming compounds. The idea of templates is traced back to its origins in Prosodic Morphology, but its uses are most in evidence in the informal settings of adult language ‘at play’. Running throughout the book is discussion of the issues of emergent systematicity, the roles of articulatory and memory challenges for children and the similarities and differences in the function of templates for adults as compared with children.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages384
ISBN (Print)9780198793564
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2019

Publication series

NameOxford Studies in Phonology and Phonetics


  • Cross-linguistic data
  • Dynamic systems theory
  • English rhyming compounds
  • Estonian
  • Exemplar model
  • French
  • Hypocoristics
  • Systematicity
  • Usage-based phonology

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