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Learning to liaise and elide comme il faut: evidence from bilingual children*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 October 2010

University of Alberta
University of Alberta
[*]Address for correspondence: Elena Nicoladis, University of Alberta, Department of Psychology, P-217 Biological Sciences Building, Edmonton AB, T6G 2E9, Canada. tel: +1 (780) 492-0124; e-mail:


Liaison and elision in French are phonological phenomena that apply across word boundaries. French-speaking children make errors in contexts where liaison/elision typically occurs in adult speech. In this study, we asked if acquisition of French liaison/elision can be explained in a constructivist framework. We tested if children's liaison/elision was sensitive to co-occurrence and meaning. We expected children's use of liaison/elision to correlate with their experience with French (estimated by vocabulary). Thirty-one French-speaking children (twenty-five bilingual) between three and five years old produced familiar vowel-initial words, following four words: (1) un, (2) deux, (3) un petit and (4) beaucoup de. The children with smaller French vocabularies produced many vowel-initial words and some consonant-initial chunks. The children with larger French vocabularies produced liaison/elision correctly across several frames while associating a number interpretation with liaised consonants. These results suggest that children use a variety of cues to construct the appropriate use of liaison/elision.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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