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Non-adjacent consonant sequence patterns in English target words during the first-word period*


The goal of this study was to investigate non-adjacent consonant sequence patterns in target words during the first-word period in infants learning American English. In the spontaneous speech of eighteen participants, target words with a Consonant–Vowel–Consonant (C1VC2) shape were analyzed. Target words were grouped into nine types, categorized by place of articulation (labial, coronal, dorsal) of initial and final consonants (e.g. mom, labial–labial; mat, labial–coronal; dog, coronal–dorsal). The results indicated that some consonant sequences occurred much more frequently than others in early target words. The two most frequent types were coronal–coronal (e.g. dad) and labial–coronal (e.g. mat). The least frequent type was dorsal–dorsal (e.g. cake). These patterns are consistent with phonotactic characteristics of English and infants' production capacities reported in previous studies. This study demonstrates that infants' expressive vocabularies reflect both ambient language characteristics and their own production capacities, at least for consonant sequences in C1VC2 word forms.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Katsura Aoyama, University of North Texas, 1155 Union Circle #305010, Denton, Texas 76203, United States. e-mail:
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The data in the study were collected with support from National Institute of Child Health and Human Development R-01 HD27733-03 to the second author. The authors thank Kelsey Robin for analyzing the individual data, and Tina Boike for providing editorial assistance. Thanks also for the participation of these infants and their families, without whom this work could not have happened.

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Journal of Child Language
  • ISSN: 0305-0009
  • EISSN: 1469-7602
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-child-language
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