Liquid Deletion in French Child-Directed Speech

Sharon Peperkamp, Monica Hegde, Maria Julia Carbajal

In spoken language, words can have different surface realizations due to the application of language-specific phonological rules. Young children must acquire these rules in order to be able to undo their effects and recognize the intended words during language processing. Evidence so far suggests that they achieve this early on, but the learning mechanisms that they exploit are unknown. As a first step in examining this question, it is necessary to know to what extent phonological rules occur in their input. Here, we investigate the occurrence of liquid deletion, i.e. the optional deletion of the liquid in word-final obstruent-liquid clusters, in French child-directed speech. Analyzing a corpus from the Childes database that contains video recordings, we find that words finishing in obstruent-liquid clusters occur on average once every 13 utterances, and that in more than half of the cases the liquid is deleted. As in adult-directed speech, deletion applies more often before consonants than before vowels and pauses. Furthermore, pairs of tokens of the same word with and without deletion tend to cluster together, with a median distance of 49 seconds of speech. This clustering could be a powerful cue in the process of the acquisition of liquid deletion.

 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2019-2838

Cite as: Peperkamp, S., Hegde, M., Carbajal, M.J. (2019) Liquid Deletion in French Child-Directed Speech. Proc. Interspeech 2019, 3574-3578, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2019-2838.

  author={Sharon Peperkamp and Monica Hegde and Maria Julia Carbajal},
  title={{Liquid Deletion in French Child-Directed Speech}},
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2019},