This article investigates the role of allophonic variation in phoneme acquisition and the clinical implications of this role. Specifically, we investigate the Hebrew rhotic /R/. We analyse its production by Hebrew-acquiring children in various corpora, comparing the deletion, substitution and production in word-initial onset, intervocalic and wordfinal coda positions. The results are compared to the frequency of rhotics in a child-directed speech (CDS) corpus and in a Hebrew lexicon analysis. The study shows rhotics are acquired first in word-final codas, then in intervocalic position and finally as word-initial onsets. The order of acquisition, demonstrated by the deletion and substitution patterns, and the actual production of Hebrew rhotics correlate with the degree of allophonic variation. It does not, however, correlate with the frequency patterns observed in CDS and the Hebrew lexicon. Further study of allophonic variation and acquisition should include additional phonemes in Hebrew, as well as other languages.
- phonological acquisition
- segmental acquisition