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Prosodic structures and templates in bilingual phonological development

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Publication details

JournalBilingualism: Language and Cognition
DateE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jan 2015
DatePublished (current) - Jan 2016
Issue number1
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)69-88
Early online date13/01/15
Original languageEnglish


Bilingual children have long been held to have ‘separate linguistic systems’ from the start (e.g., Meisel, 2001). This paper challenges that assumption with data from five bilingual children’s first 100 words. Whereas the prosodic structures represented by a child’s words may or may not be differentiated by language, emergent phonological templates are not, the same patterns being deployed as more complex adult word forms are targeted in each language. Reliance on common (idiosyncratic) phonological templates for the two languages is ascribed to children’s experience with their own voice (in production) as well as with others’ speech. Both experimental studies and spontaneous cross-linguistic speech errors in adults and older children are cited to support the view that, for a bilingual, unconscious processing draws on both languages throughout the lifespan, which suggests that the emphasis on ‘separate systems’ (from the start or thereafter) may be misconceived.

    Research areas

  • bilingual children , exemplar model , item learning , bilingual children, prosodic structure, item learning, exemplar model, phonological template

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