The (non)realization of unstressed elements in children's utterances: evidence for a rhythmic constraint.

F. Wijnen, E. Krikhaar, E. den Os

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this study it is argued that the omission of closed class morphemes and of unstressed syllables within words is related to their common characteristic, viz. that they are unstressed, rhythmically weak parts of utterances. Several strands of evidence indicate that it is unlikely that children are unable to perceive these elements in the input speech. The pattern of (non)realization of unstressed syllables within content words and the class of determiners, was analysed in two Dutch children from 1;6 to 2;11. It appeared that polysyllabic words were quite generally truncated in such a way that they fitted a trochaic (strong-weak) pattern, particularly in the early samples. Some observations with respect to the (non)realization of determiners are suggestive of an influence of an SW-constraint on the realization of noun phrases. These findings support the hypothesis that in the course of utterance preparation, words and phrases are mapped onto S(W) templates. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the dissolution of the SW-constraint coincides with the acquisition of specific aspects of stress assignment in Dutch, such as quantity sensitivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-83
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Child Language
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 1994


  • article
  • female
  • follow up
  • human
  • infant
  • language development
  • linguistics
  • male
  • Netherlands
  • phonetics
  • sound detection
  • speech


Dive into the research topics of 'The (non)realization of unstressed elements in children's utterances: evidence for a rhythmic constraint.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this