Patterns in German /ʃC/-cluster acquisition

Mehmet Yavaș*, Annette Fox-Boyer, Blanca Schaefer

*Corresponding author for this work
1 Citation (Scopus)


This study reports on the developmental patterns of /ʃC/ clusters in 145 normally developing monolingual German-speaking children between 2;00 and 2;11. All children completed a picture naming task to allow a systematic qualitative analysis of the production patterns. Children’s reductions of target /ʃC/clusters are examined and are evaluated with respect to two models, ‘factorial typology’ and ‘headedness’, to account for them. The results reveal expected patterns of C2 retention for ‘/ʃ/+[−continuant]’ (e.g. ‘/ʃ/+stop’ and ‘/ʃ/+nasal’) targets, and a rather indeterminate pattern for /ʃl/ and /ʃʁ/. The results for /ʃv/, a clear-cut preference of C2 retention, were rather unexpected, as the C2 is a [+continuant]. The explanation offered for the retention of /v/ is related to a place constraint. The study also examines the data from children who reached an advanced stage of cluster formation with differential targets. More specifically, in several children, one target, /ʃv/, is found to have stayed behind in the reduction phase while all others have advanced to the ‘cluster stage’. Neither the type nor the token frequencies seem satisfactory in accounting for the specific behaviour of /ʃv/. The explanation offered for the uniqueness of this target may be its non-abidence to the Sonority Sequencing Principle (SSP) because of its flat sonority and the Obligatory Contour Principle (OCP) [continuant], because of the unchanging ‘continuance’ which is demanded by the OCP. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Linguistics and Phonetics
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)913-931
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 03.10.2018

Research Areas and Centers

  • Health Sciences

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 206-08 Cognitive and Systemic Human Neuroscience
  • 205-20 Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine

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