Is the input for prosodic bootstrapping of word order reliable? The case of phrasal prominence in Turkish and French.

Author(s): Angeliki Athanasopoulou and Irene Vogel


Prosody is often attributed a fundamental role in the process of language acquisition, allowing infants to use prosodic cues to begin to acquire the syntactic structures of their language. The Prosodic Bootstrapping process may combine a number of phonological phenomena (e.g., stress, rhythmic units, intonation), and recently, it has been proposed that a Rhythmic Activation Principle that integrates the Iambic-Trochaic Law also contributes, with the acoustic characteristics of phrasal prominence cuing a language’s basic word order [1, 2]. That is, association of the different properties of iambic and trochaic stress with phrasal prominence patterns would allow a child to identify whether a language is syntactically VO or OV (see [1, 2] for French and Turkish). We further test this hypothesis by investigating the acoustic manifestations of stress in Turkish and French, specifically by comparing them in non-focus and focus conditions.