School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Linguistics Guest Speaker Seminar | Brechtje Post (Cambridge)

15 May 2019

Time: 4:30 - 6:00pm
Venue: ArtsTwo 2.17

A multi-componential dynamic approach to prosodic acquisition
Perception and production studies of prosodic development paint a complex picture of a universal early sensitivity to – and mastery of – prosodic cues, while the rate of acquisition of relevant properties across and within languages appears to be typologically and structurally determined, with some still not fully acquired even by age ten. Data from second language learners suggest that prosodic acquisition proceeds in an equally non-uniform fashion in bilinguals.

In this paper, I will argue that a comprehensive understanding of prosodic acquisition requires an integrated approach in which the many interacting factors that play a role are analysed in conjunction. Focusing on speech rhythm, I will present data from monolingual and bilingual children as well as adult second language learners. I will attempt to demonstrate that the complex patterns of variation we observe are best accounted for in terms of a multi-componential dynamic framework in which structural properties of the language system and performance factors interact to determine developmental trajectories in rhythm acquisition, both within the individual language learner, and across learners of different languages (Post and Payne, 2018; Payne and Post, under revision). In the final part of my presentation, I will argue that this approach can also help us in developing tools for EFL teaching and assessment.