Acquisition of Lebanese Arabic and Yorkshire English /l/ by bilingual and monolingual children

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This study presents data from auditory and acoustic analyses of /l/ in the production of a total of 23 English and Arabic monolingual and bilingual children and adults. /l/ production in each language is described, taking into account the varieties produced in the subjects’ environment and also developmental patterns of /l/ acquisition normally found in monolingual and bilingual children. Results suggest that English and Arabic vary not only in the phonotactic rules governing the occurrence of clear and dark /l/s in each of the languages, but also in the actual realisation of what counts as ‘clear’ in each language. On the other hand, ‘dark’ variants seem to have similar acoustic manifestations in the two languages, suggesting variable pharyngealisation in both. Bilingual children show language-appropriate distributions of clear and dark allophones but do not show any sign of having acquired the subtle differences in the realisation of the clear variants particular to each language.


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