Speech Prosody 2010

Chicago, IL, USA
May 10-14, 2010

Word Prosody in Early Child Catalan, Spanish and English

Lluïsa Astruc (1), Elinor Payne (2), Brechtje Post (3), Pilar Prieto (4,5), Maria del Mar Vanrell (5)

(1) Department of Languages, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
(2) Phonetics Laboratory, University of Oxford and St Hilda's College, Oxford, UK
(3) RCEAL, University of Cambridge and Jesus College, Cambridge, UK
(4) Departament de Traducció i Ciències del Llenguatge, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
(5) ICREA, Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats, Barcelona, Spain

The goal of this study is to examine the acquisition of prosody at the word level in early child Catalan, Spanish and English. We used a controlled naming task to elicit speech from 36 children; 12 English, 12 Catalan, and 12 Spanish, aged 2, 4 and 6 in order to analyze the acquisition of prosodic words with increasingly complex forms (S, WS, SW, WSW, SWW, WWS, SWSW; 3 target words per prosodic pattern in each language). We analyzed the prosodic patterns produced and quantified the omissions ("truncations") of weakly stressed syllables. Results are in line with previous studies [1],[2] in that there are developmental and crosslinguistic differences in the acquisition of complex prosodic word structures.

Index Terms: prosodic word, first language acquisition metrical patterns, rhythm, Catalan, Spanish, English.


  1. Lleó, C. & Demuth, K. (1999). Prosodic constraints on the emergence of grammatical morphemes: Crosslinguistic evidence from Germanic and Romance languages. Proceedings 23rd BUCLD, 407-418.
  2. Prieto, P. (2006). The relevance of metrical information in early prosodic word acquisition: A comparison of Catalan and Spanish. Language and Speech, 49, 231-259.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Astruc, Lluïsa / Payne, Elinor / Post, Brechtje / Prieto, Pilar / Vanrell, Maria del Mar (2010): "Word prosody in early child Catalan, Spanish and English", In SP-2010, paper 173.