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From babbling to first words in Tashlhiyt language acquisition: longitudinal two-case studies

  • Mohamed Lahrouchi (a1) and Sophie Kern (a2)

Abstract

Strong similarities observed between babbling and first words suggest a universal foundation of word production in children. The aim of this work was to evaluate the role of biomechanical constraints on babbling and first words production in two children acquiring Tashlhiyt, a Berber language spoken in Morocco. When considering isolated sounds and syllable types, our data provided evidence for a universal basis for early vocal patterns. The subjects produced more stops, more coronals and labials, vowels preferentially belonging to the lower left part of the vowel space, and open syllables. However, they only partially confirmed the existence of the preferred CV combinations generally observed in the early production of children learning various languages. The comparison between babbling and first words revealed a linguistic continuity between the two periods but also some increasing complexity and diversification in the words, which can be explained by an increase of articulatory capacities.

Les importantes similarités constatées dans les productions du babillage et les premiers mots suggèrent une base universelle commune. Ce travail a pour but d’évaluer le rôle des contraintes biomécaniques sur le babillage et les premiers mots de deux enfants apprenant le tachelhit, une langue berbère parlée au Maroc. Au chapitre des sons en isolation et des structures syllabiques, nos résultats soutiennent l'hypothèse d'un fondement universel en matière de configurations vocaliques précoces : les sujets de notre étude produisent plus d'occlusives, plus de coronales et de labiales; ils préfèrent les voyelles de la partie inférieure gauche de l'espace vocalique ainsi que les syllabes ouvertes. Mais les résultats n'ont confirmé que partiellement l'existence des associations CV décrites comme utilisées de manière préférentielle par les enfants apprenant des langues diverses. La comparaison entre le babillage et les premiers mots a révélé une continuité entre les deux types de production, mais également une certaine complexification et diversification dans les premiers mots, qu'il est possible d'expliquer par une augmentation des capacités articulatoires.

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