The acquisition of initial consonant clusters in German-speaking 2-year-olds

Blanca Schaefer*, Annette Fox-Boyer

*Corresponding author for this work
3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The aim of this study was to explore cluster acquisition in typically developing German-speaking 2-year-olds. Method: Data from four cross-sectional studies (n = 145, aged 2;00–2;11) and one eight-month longitudinal study were analysed (n = 6, aged 2;01–2;04). Two different percentages of consonant clusters correct were calculated to allow a more detailed analysis. Result: Findings showed that the majority of children produced clusters, although they could not be considered to be fully acquired. Correct production significantly correlated with age. Only /gl/ and /kl/ were shown to be phonetically and phonemically acquired (75% criterion) in the older age group. Three-element clusters were acquired at the same time as 2-element clusters and /∫/-clusters were acquired to the same or larger extent as non-/∫/ clusters when fronting/backing of /∫/ was accepted. Younger children produced more reductions than simplifications but this effect was less strong for the /∫/-clusters. Developmental realisation patterns varied depending on cluster type. Inter- and intra-individual developmental patterns could be observed which changed depending on the time of testing. Conclusion: Findings on cluster acquisition in 2-year-old German-speaking children revealed language-specific differences but also similarities in comparison with results from other languages. All but two children produced clusters. However, individual variation between children was high.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)476-489
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 03.09.2017

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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