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Learning Spanish Stress: Developmental and Theoretical Perspectives

Judith G. Hochberg
Language
Vol. 64, No. 4 (Dec., 1988), pp. 683-706
DOI: 10.2307/414564
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/414564
Page Count: 24
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Learning Spanish Stress: Developmental and Theoretical Perspectives
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Abstract

This paper uses spontaneous and imitated speech data from 50 Mexican-American preschoolers to demonstrate that children learning Spanish as a first language learn rules for assigning stress, as opposed to simply memorizing stress on a word-by-word basis. From a developmental perspective, this finding is taken as an indication that children's propensity to hypothesize linguistic rules is so strong as to take effect even when rules are not needed to produce correct forms and are obscured by large numbers of exceptional forms. From a theoretical perspective, the acquisition data are used to support the metrical theory of stress advanced by Harris 1983 and Den Os & Kaeger 1986, and to suggest that future theories take into account degrees of irregularity among different irregular stress types.

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