2. Representations of [voice]: Evidence from acquisition

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We consider two theories of laryngeal representation, one using a single feature [voice] generalizing across prevoicing languages and aspiration languages, and the other using multiple features: [voice] for pre-voicing languages and [spread glottis] for aspiration languages. We derive predictions for children’s early productions, and test these for three Germanic languages. Children acquiring Dutch, a prevoicing language, show de-voicing of stops, while available data from German, an aspiration language, show de-aspiration. Although the difference might simply reflect intrinsic properties of children’s early production and perception systems, we argue that a representational account is in order, based on multiples features. The case is made for English, an aspiration language, based on the early productions of a single child. A laryngeal harmony pattern is found which spreads voicelessness from coda to onset, which is argued to involve activity of [spread glottis]. This is interpreted as evidence for a laryngeal representation involving multiple features.


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