Romance-Germanic Bilingual Phonology - Mehmet Yavaş

Romance-Germanic Bilingual Phonology - Mehmet Yavaş

Vowel Reduction in German-Spanish Bilinguals

Romance-Germanic Bilingual Phonology - Mehmet Yavaş

Margaret Kehoe [+-]
University of Geneva
Margaret Kehoe is a senior lecturer at the University of Geneva. She is also a practicing speech-language therapist who works with the International community in Geneva. She received her Bachelor in Speech Therapy (with Honors) from the University of Queensland, her MSc, from the University of Arizona, and her Ph.D from the University of Washington. She has conducted research on phonetic and phonological acquisition in English-, German-, Spanish-, and French-speaking children as well as in bilingual children. She is currently interested in the theme of cross-linguistic interaction in bilingual children.
Conxita Lleó [+-]
University of Hamburg (Retired)
Conxita Lleó, now retired, was Professor of Romance Linguistics at the University of Hamburg, Germany. She studied Romance Languages at the University of Barcelona and General Linguistics at the U of W (Seattle), and received two PhD degrees, one from each university. She taught at the Universities of Barcelona, Concepción (Chile), San Luis (Argentina), Göttingen (Germany) the University of Hamburg . Her focus of research lies in bilingualism, child language, phonological acquisition, and sound change, where she has published about 100 studies and several books. During ca. 20 years she obtained research grants from the German Science Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft). She fluently speaks Spanish, Catalan, French, English, and German.


Vowel reduction maximizes the difference between stressed and unstressed syllables. In stress-timed languages, vowels of unstressed syllables are reduced, but not in syllable-timed languages. In this study, we examine the development of unstressed syllables in German (stress-timed) and Spanish (syllable-timed). The empirical data-base consists of the productions of three bilingual German-Spanish children recorded longitudinally, who are then compared to three monolingual German and Spanish children. Vowel quality and duration of unstressed syllables were measured in two- to four-syllable words extracted from the data-base at ages 2;6 through to 3;0 years. Results indicated that bilingual children were mildly disadvantaged in the acquisition of reduced syllables in German as compared to monolingual children, although not in word-final position, and that they produced non-reduced syllables in Spanish in a similar way to their monolingual counterparts. Thus, there was some delay and transfer from the language with simple syllables to the language with complex ones.

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Kehoe, Margaret; Lleó, Conxita. Vowel Reduction in German-Spanish Bilinguals. Romance-Germanic Bilingual Phonology. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 14-37 Jan 2017. ISBN 9781781792827. Date accessed: 20 Jan 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.27352. Jan 2017

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