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Comparing the representation of iambs by monolingual German, monolingual Spanish and bilingual German-Spanish children

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Abstract

This article examines the production of iambic-shaped words by two monolingual German, two monolingual Spanish and two German-Spanish bilingual children, aiming to contribute to the understanding of stress acquisition in early childhood. Target iambic words produced at ages 1;0 to 2;6, have been auditorily and acoustically analyzed, focusing on rhyme duration. Results show that whereas German monolinguals at first often truncate the unstressed syllable, Spanish monolinguals hardly show any truncation, but at about 1;8 convert iambs to trochees. These diverging behaviors respond to different analyses, based on target language differences: Whereas German monolinguals analyze iambic words as comprising a moraic trochee preceded by an unfooted syllable, Spanish monolinguals analyze them as quantity insensitive iambs. The bilinguals show some interaction between both systems.

References

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