Phoneme complexity and frequency in the acquisition of Hebrew rhotics

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This study investigates the roles of two factors potentially affecting acquisition
order of phonemes: (a) the lexical frequency of the phoneme in various prosodic
positions, and (b) phoneme consistency. The research analyses rhotic attempts
and productions in the spontaneous speech of two Hebrew-acquiring children
from the onset of speech until the completion of rhotic acquisition. I show that
the more consistent (i.e. less allophonic variation) a phoneme is in a given
prosodic position, the more likely the infant is to attempt targets with this
phoneme in this position (selectivity) and the earlier the faithful production of
the phoneme in this position will be. Lexical frequency is shown to play no
noticeable role in the early acquisition of Hebrew rhotics. Rather, it is phoneme
consistency which drives selectivity and biases acquisition order.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalLanguage Acquisition
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Phoneme consistency
  • Frequency
  • Acquisition
  • Allophony
  • Rhotic
  • Hebrew


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