Acquisition of prosodic focus marking: a cross-linguistic model
Languages differ in both the use of prosody to mark focus (i.e. new and/or contrastive information in a sentence) and prosodic system. In the light of recent studies of prosodic focus marking in children aged 4 to 11 years acquiring typologically different languages (i.e. Finnish, Swedish, Korean, Mandarin, German, Dutch) conducted in my group, I will show that typological differences have direct influences on acquisition of prosodic focus marking. Specifically, differences in reliance on phonetic uses of prosody (e.g., varying the realisation of a lexical tone in Mandarin) and transparency of how prosody is used phonologically (e.g., the use of accentuation in West Germanic languages) to encode focus can lead to cross-linguistic differences in rate of acquisition. Differences in whether the prosodic means involved are also used for lexical purposes and in interface between prosody and word order can trigger cross-linguistic differences in route of acquisition.