chapter  15
Typological Description of the Normal Acquisition of Consonant Clusters
WithSharynne McLeod, Jan van Doorn, Vicki A. Reed
Pages 16

Consonant clusters provide a microcosm for the study of the systemic and structural (phonotactic) components of speech. However, few attempts to describe the normal acquisition of consonant clusters have examined both structural and systemic components and the interrelationship between these two aspects. For example, studies primarily focusing on the systemic components of speech include those documenting the age of acquisition of consonant clusters (e.g., Olmsted, 1971; Smit, Hand, Frelinger, Bernthal & Bird, 1990; Templin, 1957). Studies focusing on the structural (phonotactic) components primarily describe the phonological processes that occur; most commonly cluster reduction and cluster simplification1 (e.g. Grunwell, 1987; Shriberg & Kwiatkowski, 1980; Watson & Scukanec, 1997). Systemic analyses tend to provide extremely detailed information, to the extent that universal statements are difficult to glean, while structural analyses tend to provide information that is so inclusive that many subtleties of development are hidden. Ingram (1976) stated with regard to the cluster reduction process, “data like this show the points of acquisition of the clusters, but not the stages that occur between the first attempts at clusters and final correct production” (Ingram, 1976, p. 32).