Geminate Acquisition and Representation by Ammani Arabic-Speaking Children


This study investigates the acquisition and representation of geminate plosives and geminate liquids in the speech of Ammani Arabic (AA) children aged from 2;6 (year; month) to 5 years, at six months intervals. Although gemination is perceived properly by AA children at an early stage, in which they produce words including geminates significantly longer than words with singletons, the acoustic measurements indicate that the children’s phonetic/acoustic representations start to be noticeable (in comparison with adults) at the age-stage of 3;7-4, and much closer to that of the adults by the age-stage 4;7-5. In terms of phonological representation, it is found that gemination is implemented as a main strategy by AA children for word-medial clusters at syllable boundaries. Interestingly, if the medial cluster is not pronounced faithfully, it will be pronounced as a geminate consonant where the second member of the cluster compensates for the deleted consonant to rescue the moraic weight and the segmental length that would be achieved by producing the target of two distinct consonantal gestures. This strategy offers an intriguing piece of evidence for the two-root node composite modal which combines moraic representation of geminates (by preserving weight to the syllable) and prosodic representation (by preserving segmental length to the geminate consonant).


Bassil Mashaqba, Anas Huneety, Nisreen Al-Khawaldeh and Baraah Thnaibat


Ammani Arabic, child’s speech, geminate, language acquisition, phonological development