The acquisition of allophones among bilingual Spanish-English and French-English 3-year-old children

Andrea A.N. MacLeod, Leah Fabiano-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Children are exposed to highly variable input from multiple sources within their speech community. This study examines the acquisition of allophones in Spanish and French by monolingual and bilingual children. We hypothesised that two factors would influence allophone acquisition: (1) the amount of exposure to phonological input, and (2) the degree of variability of the allophonic pattern. Thirty-four typically developing 3-year-old participated in the study. The analyses revealed that regardless of the language, the monolingual children produced similar error rates in the production of the target allophones. In contrast, the bilingual children produced different patterns of acquisition of the allophones: the Spanish-English bilinguals produced higher error rates than the monolinguals, whereas the French-English bilinguals produced lower error rates than the monolinguals. Possibilities for these differences are discussed within the context of structural complexity as well as in light of the effects of between-language interaction on bilingual phonological development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-184
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Linguistics and Phonetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Acquisition
  • Allophones
  • Bilingualism
  • English
  • French
  • Spanish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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