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First steps in the acquisition of Spanish stress*

  • Judith G. Hochberg (a1)

This article uses longitudinal data from four Mexican-American children to explore two aspects of the acquisition of Spanish word stress that precede and accompany learning of the stress system itself. First, contrary to Allen & Hawkins' proposed universal ‘trochaic bias’ (Allen 1982, Allen & Hawkins 1977, 1979, 1980), it is shown that children have a ‘neutral start’ in stress learning: they approach the task of stress learning unbiased towards any particular stress type. Secondly, several examples are found in which children's attention to phonetic or semantic aspects of normatively unstressed syllables leads them to shift stress to that syllable.

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Committee on Child Development, 5835 South Kimbark Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
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This work was supported by Stanford University, NICHD 5Roi HD 18908, and NICHD DHMC 5 T32 HD07307-02 HLB. I would like to thank Eve Clark, Charles Ferguson, Susan Goldin-Meadow, Paul Kiparsky, Karen Landahl and Marilyn Vihman for many valuable discussions and comments on previous drafts. I am also grateful to the Stanford Child Phonology Project, and especially Marlys Macken, for generously allowing me the use of their data and facilities.

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Journal of Child Language
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