The relation between order of acquisition, segmental frequency and function: the case of word-initial consonants in Dutch
Van Severen, Lieve Gillis, Joris Molemans, Inge van den Berge, Renate De Maeyer, Sven Gillis, Steven # ×
Cambridge University Press
Journal of Child Language vol:40 issue:4 pages:703-740
The impact of input frequency (IF) and functional load (FL) of segments in the ambient language on the acquisition order of word-initial consonants is investigated. Several definitions of IF/FL are compared and implemented. The impact of IF/FL and their components are computed using a longitudinal corpus of interactions between thirty Dutch-speaking children (age range: 0 ; 6–2 ; 0) and their primary caretaker(s). The corpus study reveals significant correlations between IF/FL and acquisition order. The highest predictive values are found for the token frequency of segments, and for FL computed on minimally different word types in child-directed speech. Although IF and FL significantly correlate, they do have a different impact on the order of acquisition of word-initial consonants. When the impact of IF is partialed out, FL still has a significant correlation with acquisition order. The reverse is not true, suggesting that the acquisition of word-initial consonants is mainly influenced by their discriminating function.