Acquisition of variable rules:/s/-lenition in the speech of Chilean Spanish-speaking children and their caregivers

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This paper examines the acquisition of the variable rules constraining Spanish syllable-final/s/-lenition in Chilean Spanish-speaking children, and whether adult-to-adult speech differs from child-directed speech in the production of s-lenition. The data of 10 children (ages 2;04-5;09) and their caregivers is presented. Tokens of syllable final/s/were coded for pronunciation and a variable-rule analysis examining the effect of various linguistic and extralinguistic constraints was carried out. The results show that child and caregiver use of s-lenition is similar to that found in adult-to-adult speech; however, two of the youngest children showed near-categorical behavior. This paper highlights the important role of caregiver input on acquisition of s-lenition and proposes that production of s-lenition in utterance-final position in the input (caregiver's speech) is linked to young children's acquisition of s-lenition; young children exposed to an input with high rates of [s] in utterance-final position acquire s-lenition earlier.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-340
Number of pages30
JournalLanguage Variation and Change
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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