A preliminary study of wh-questions in German and Spanish child language

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This article presents a preliminary study of L1 acquisition of <i>wh</i>-questions in German and Spanish. According to traditional descriptions, neutral informationseeking <i>wh</i>-questions show similar contours in both languages, although there are cross-linguistic differences in scaling and alignment as well as different pitch accents, formalized in the Autosegmental-Metrical model of intonation. <i>Wh</i>questions uttered by two 3-year-old German-Spanish bilinguals are compared to those produced by monolingual children, and adults. Analyses show that most aspects of such utterances seem to already be acquired at the age of 3;0. However, bilinguals exhibit much variation, which reveals cross-linguistic interaction. Moreover, 3-year-olds produce many rising contours in German, only a few of which can be characterized as non-neutral.


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