Understanding how a given language works involves understanding how children acquire it. In the face of this, acquisition studies have devoted considerable attention to different grammatical components. In the particular case of phonology and its acquisition, more attention has been paid to the acquisition of segments and syllables (e.g Bonilha 2004, Mezzomo 2004, Matzenauer 2008, 2015 for Brazilian Portuguese), some attention has been paid to the acquisition of stress and intonation (e.g. Scarpa 1997, Santos 2001, Bonilha 2004 on Brazilian Portuguese), but very little is known about the acquisition of the phonological rules that apply in adult language. However, it is of fundamental importance to fill this gap, for phonological processes in principle may render the phonological structure opaque to children (and second language learners). Moreover, children's ouput may result from the acquisition of different phonological processes. For instance, when a child says [´ke.lu] for ´coelho´, is it the case that she is applying the elision incorrectly (given that this rule only applies between words) or is it the case that she doesn't produce onsetless syllables? This is precisely the topic of the present project. My goal is to investigate the interaction between the acquisition of vocalic sandhi (degemination, elision, and diphtongation; cf. Santos 2007) and the acquisition of syllabic structure (cf. Santos 1998, 2001). More specifically, I will address the following questions:a) How can we distinguish the emergence of the rule of elision in the course of acquisition from the deletion of syllables due to their noncanonical CV structure? Consider, for instance, a sentence like ´posso escutar fita´ produced by the child as ['pT.u.ku.'ta.'fi.ta]. The fact that the child deletes the vowel in the context where there is a +back vowel led Santos (2007) to analyze this piece of data as an improper application of elision. However, the fact that the child deletes all the syllable (including the fricative in coda position) may indicate that in fact, the child is not applying elision (or that for the child, elision involves the deletion not only of the vowel, but the whole syllable).b) What motivates the processes of deletion in child grammar? Elision is an optional rule, but syllabic structure is an essential part of the phonological structure. This indicates that once the relevant parameters are set, we shouldn't find simplification processes (from CCV or CVC/ CVV to CV) or deletion (from V to Ø). Why do children keep displaying these processes after having been able to produce more complex syllables?
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