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The Emergence of Phonology
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Book description

How well have classic ideas on whole-word phonology stood the test of time? Waterson claimed that each child has a system of their own; Ferguson and Farwell emphasized the relative accuracy of first words; Menn noted the occurrence of regression and the emergence of phonological systematicity. This volume brings together classic texts such as these with current data-rich studies of British and American English, Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Finnish, French, Japanese, Polish and Spanish. This combination of classic and contemporary work from the last thirty years presents the reader with cutting-edge perspectives on child language by linking historical approaches with current ideas such as exemplar theory and usage-based phonology, and contrasting state-of-the-art perspectives from developmental psychology and linguistics. This is a valuable resource for cognitive scientists, developmentalists, linguists, psychologists, speech scientists and therapists interested in understanding how children begin to use language without the benefit of language-specific innate knowledge.


'The field of language acquisition - and indeed, theoretical linguistics itself - has seen a dramatic shift in views about how sounds, words, and meanings are acquired. The assumption that segments or phonemes were the [foundation] to learning (often with the accompanying assumption that these units were innately specified) has been challenged by findings that support the usage-based 'whole word' approach presented here. Although the sea change is recent, the idea itself has important antecedents dating back at least to the 1970s. This volume is a wonderful collection of papers. Some are foundational classics. Other, more recent works, reflect new insights into the role of exemplars, templates, and schema in the acquisition of phonology. Taken together, the collection presents an account of phonological development that is both cutting edge and compelling.’

Jeffrey L. Elman - University of California, San Diego

‘Brings together classic papers and state-of-the-art research to provide a compelling account of phonological development. The breadth of the cross-linguistic evidence presented here is particularly welcome and impressive. This book forms a significant contribution to the literature which will be appreciated by a wide readership.’

Sara Howard - University of Sheffield

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References for reprinted papers

Ferguson, C. A. and Farwell, C. B. (1975). Words and sounds in early language acquisition. Language, 51, 419–39. Reprinted in W. S-Y. Wang, The lexicon in phonological change. The Hague: Mouton, 1977.
Macken, M. A. (1979). Developmental reorganization of phonology: a hierarchy of basic units of acquisition. Lingua, 49, 11–49.
Menn, L. (1983). Development of articulatory, phonetic, and phonological capabilities. In B. Butterworth (ed.), Language production, vol. 2, pp. 3–50. London: Academic Press.
Priestly, T. M. S. (1977). One idiosyncratic strategy in the acquisition of phonology. Journal of Child Language, 4, 45–66.
Savinainen-Makkonen, T. (2007). Geminate template: a model for first Finnish words. First Language, 27, 347–59.
Vihman, M. M. and Croft, W. (2007). Phonological development: toward a “radical” templatic phonology. Linguistics, 45, 683–725.
Vihman, M. M. and Velleman, S. (1989). Phonological reorganization: a case study. Language and Speech, 32, 149–70.
Vihman, M. M., Velleman, S. L., and McCune, L. (1994). How abstract is child phonology? Towards an integration of linguistic and psychological approaches. In M. Yavas (ed.), First and second language phonology, pp. 9–44. San Diego: Singular Publishing.
Waterson, N. (1971). Child phonology: a prosodic view. Journal of Linguistics, 7, 179–211.