Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton February 22, 2023

The typological frequency of consonants is highly predictive of their order of acquisition in English

  • Caleb Everett EMAIL logo and Sophie Schwartz
From the journal Linguistic Typology

Abstract

The order of acquisition of consonants by children is impacted by both language-specific and species-wide factors. The latter factors also help to motivate the crosslinguistic commonness of some consonants. Here we explore the extent of overlap between crosslinguistic commonness and order of acquisition. We test how well the typological commonness of consonants is predictive of their order of acquisition in English, and vice versa, helping to shed light on the extent to which general cognitive and physical factors are explanatory vis-à-vis the acquisition of specific consonant types. We utilize several different sources to demonstrate that typological frequency and order of acquisition are indeed highly mutually predictive. We rely on acquisition data from English. We demonstrate that the crosslinguistic usage of a consonant is a better predictor of its order of acquisition than the language-specific factors tested.


Corresponding author: Caleb Everett [kheiləb ɛvɹɪt], Anthropology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, USA, E-mail:

  1. Author contributions: CE: Wrote paper and conducted statistical analyses. CE and SS: Collected data.

References

Bernhardt, Barbara H. & Joseph P. Stemberger. 1998. Handbook of phonological development from the perspective of constraint-based nonlinear phonology. San Diego: Academic Press.10.1163/9789004653405_008Search in Google Scholar

Blasi, Damián E., Steven Moran, Scott R. Moisik, Paul Widmer, Dan Dediu & Balthasar Bickel. 2019. Human sound systems are shaped by post-Neolithic changes in bite configuration. Science 363(6432). 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aav3218.Search in Google Scholar

de Boysson-Bardies, Bénédicte & Marilyn May Vihman. 1991. Adaptation to language: Evidence from babbling and first words in four languages. Language 67(2). 297–319. https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.1991.0045.Search in Google Scholar

Cohen-Priva, Uriel. 2017. Informativity and the actuation of lenition. Language 93. 569–597. https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2017.0037.Search in Google Scholar

Cychosz, Margaret. 2017. Functional load and frequency predict consonant emergence across five languages. UC Berkeley Phonetics and Phonology Lab Annual Report, 312–320.10.5070/P7131040758Search in Google Scholar

Dediu, Dan, Rick Janssen & Scott R. Moisik. 2017. Language is not isolated from its wider environment: Vocal tract influences on the evolution of speech and language. Language & Communication 54. 9–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langcom.2016.10.002.Search in Google Scholar

Edwards, Jan, Mary E. Beckman & Benjamin Munson. 2015. Frequency effects in phonological acquisition. Journal of Child Language 42. 306–311. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0305000914000634.Search in Google Scholar

Everett, Caleb. 2018a. The similar rates of occurrence of consonants across the world’s languages: A quantitative analysis of phonetically transcribed word lists. Language Sciences 69. 125–135. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langsci.2018.07.003.Search in Google Scholar

Everett, Caleb. 2018b. The global dispreference for posterior voiced obstruents: A quantitative analysis of word-list data. Language 94. e311–e323. https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2018.0069.Search in Google Scholar

Everett, Caleb & Sihan Chen. 2021. Speech adapts to differences in dentition within and across populations. Scientific Reports 11. 1066. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-80190-8.Search in Google Scholar

Gordon, Matthew. 2016. Phonological typology. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199669004.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Hayden, Rebecca. 1950. The relative frequency of phonemes in General-American English. Word 6(3). 217–223. https://doi.org/10.1080/00437956.1950.11659381.Search in Google Scholar

Jakobson, Roman. 1941. Kindersprache, Aphasie und Allgemeine Lautgesetze [Child language, aphasia and phonological universals]. Translated by Allan R. Keiler in 1968. The Hague: Mouton Publishers.Search in Google Scholar

Kager, Rene, Suzanne van der Feest, Paula Fikkert, Annemarie Kerkhoff & Tania Zamuner. 2007. Representations of [voice]: Evidence from acquisition. In Jeroen, van de Weijer & Erik Jan van der Torre (eds.), Voicing in Dutch: (De)voicing- phonology, phonetics and psycholinguistics, 41–80. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.10.1075/cilt.286.03kagSearch in Google Scholar

King, Adam & Andrew Wedel. 2020. Greater early disambiguating information for less-probable words: The lexicon is shaped by incremental processing. Open Mind: Discoveries in Cognitive Science 4. 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1162/opmi_a_00030.Search in Google Scholar

Kuhl, P. 2000. A new view of language acquisition. In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 97, 11857–11850.10.1073/pnas.97.22.11850Search in Google Scholar

Ladefoged, Peter & Ian Maddieson. 1996. The sounds of the world’s languages. Oxford: Blackwell.Search in Google Scholar

Lindblom, Björn. 1990. Explaining phonetic variation: A sketch of the H&H theory. In William J. Hardcastle and Alain Marchal (eds.), Speech Production and Speech Modelling, 403–439. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.10.1007/978-94-009-2037-8_16Search in Google Scholar

Lindblom, Björn & Johan Sundberg. 1971. Acoustical consequences of lip, tongue, jaw, and larynx movement. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 50(4). 1166–1179. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.1912750.Search in Google Scholar

Locke, John. 1983. Phonological acquisition and change. New York: Academic Press.Search in Google Scholar

Ludusan, Bogdan, Reiko Mazuka & Emmanuel Dupoux. 2021. Does infant-directed speech help phonetic learning? A machine learning investigation. Cognitive Science 45. 1–31. https://doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12946.Search in Google Scholar

Maddieson, Ian. 1984. Patterns of sounds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511753459Search in Google Scholar

Maddieson, Ian. 2013. Voicing in plosives and fricatives. In Matthew S. Dryer & Martin Haspelmath (eds.), The world atlas of language structures online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. http://wals.info/chapter/4.Search in Google Scholar

Mines, M. Ardussi, Barbara Hanson & June Shopu. 1978. Frequency of occurrence of phonemes in Conversational English. Language and Speech 21(3). 205–220. https://doi.org/10.1177/002383097802100302.Search in Google Scholar

McLeod, Sharynne & Kathryn Crowe. 2018. Children’s consonant acquisition in 27 languages: A crosslinguistic review. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 27(4). 1546–1571. https://doi.org/10.1044/2018_ajslp-17-0100.Search in Google Scholar

Moran, Steven & Daniel McCloy (eds.). 2019. PHOIBLE 2.0. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. Available at: http://phoible.org.Search in Google Scholar

Moran, Steven & Sabine Stoll. 2017. Worldwide frequency of phonemes predicts their age of acquisition. Poster presented at the 42nd Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD).Search in Google Scholar

Mugitani, Ryoko & Sadao Hiroya. 2012. Development of vocal tract and acoustic features in children. Acoustical Science and Technology 33. 215–220. https://doi.org/10.1250/ast.33.215.Search in Google Scholar

Napoli, Donna Jo, Nathan Sanders & Rebecca Wright. 2014. On the linguistic effects of articulatory ease, with a focus on sign languages. Language 90(2). 424–456. https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2014.0043.Search in Google Scholar

Ohala, John. 1997. Comparison of speech sounds: Distance vs. cost metrics. In Shigeru Kiritani, Hajime Hirose & Hiroya Fujisaki (eds.), Speech production and language, 261–270. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110809411.261Search in Google Scholar

Paradis, Carole & Jean-François Prunet (eds.). 1991. The special status of coronals: Internal and external evidence. Phonetics and phonology, vol. 2. San Diego: Academic Press.Search in Google Scholar

Romani, Cristina, Claudia Galuzzi, Cecelia Guariglia & Jeremy Goslin. 2017. Comparing phoneme frequency, age of acquisition, and loss in aphasia: Implications for phonological universals. Cognitive Neuropsychology 34(7–8). 449–471. https://doi.org/10.1080/02643294.2017.1369942.Search in Google Scholar

Stoel-Gammon, Carol. 1985. Phonetic inventories, 15–24 months: A longitudinal study. Journal of Speech & Hearing Research 28. 505–512. https://doi.org/10.1044/jshr.2804.505.Search in Google Scholar

Stoel-Gammon, Carol. 2011. Relationships between lexical and phonological development in young children. Journal of Child Language 38(1). 1–34. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0305000910000425.Search in Google Scholar

Stoel-Gammon, Carol & Judith A. Cooper. 1984. Patterns of early lexical and phonological development. Journal of Child Language 11. 247–271. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0305000900005766.Search in Google Scholar

Stokes, Stephanie & Dinoj Surendran. 2005. Articulatory complexity, ambient frequency, and functional load as predictors of consonant development in children. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 48(3). 577–591. https://doi.org/10.1044/1092-4388(2005/040).Search in Google Scholar

Wedel, Andrew, Scott Jackson & Abby Kaplan. 2013. Functional load and the lexicon: Evidence that syntactic category and frequency relationships in minimal lemma pairs predict the loss of phoneme contrasts in language change. Language and Speech 56. 395–417. https://doi.org/10.1177/0023830913489096.Search in Google Scholar

Wichmann, Søren, Eric W. Holman & Cecil H. Brown (eds.). 2020. The ASJP Database (version 19). Available at: https://asjp.clld.org/.Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2022-06-16
Accepted: 2023-01-14
Published Online: 2023-02-22
Published in Print: 2023-07-26

© 2023 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 2.3.2024 from https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/lingty-2022-0033/html
Scroll to top button