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Cross-linguistic interaction in trilingual phonological development: the role of the input in the acquisition of the voicing contrast

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posted on 2022-04-08, 15:24 authored by Robert Mayr, Simona Montanari

 This paper examines the production of word-initial stops by two simultaneous trilingual sisters, aged 6;8 and 8;1, who receive regular input in Italian and English from multiple speakers, but in Spanish from only one person. The children's productions in each language were analysed acoustically and compared to those of their main input providers. The results revealed consistent cross-linguistic differences by both children, including between Italian and Spanish stops, although the latter have identical properties in the speech of Italian- and Spanish- speaking adults. While the children's English stops were largely target-like, their Italian stops exhibited non-target-like realisations in the direction of English, suggesting interactions. Interestingly, their Spanish productions were largely unaffected by cross-linguistic interactions, with target-like voiceless stops, and voiced stops predominantly realised as spirants. These findings raise interesting questions about phonological development in multilingual settings and demonstrate that the number and type of input providers may crucially affect cross-linguistic interactions 


Published in

Journal of Child Language


Cambridge University Press


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


Mayr, R. and Montanari, S. (2015) 'Cross-linguistic interaction in trilingual phonological development: the role of the input in the acquisition of the voicing contrast', Journal of Child Language, 42 (5), pp 1006-1035

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

Robert Mayr

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Speech, Hearing and Communication

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  • © The Publisher


  • en

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