Temporal measures of reduced /sC/-clusters in toddler speech: Evidence for a detailed lexical specification
Cluster reduction is a common phenomenon in toddlers’ productions. The question in this paper is how toddlers store target complex onsets in their mental lexicon: are cluster reductions the result of an incomplete lexical specification? We focus on cluster reductions in /sC/-onsets, like in [li:p] for ‘sleep’. By means of a detailed acoustic analysis we compare toddlers’ productions of target /sC/-onsets that have been phonetically transcribed as reduced to a single consonant, to their productions of similar target words with a singleton consonant. The main finding in this study is that in the acoustic signal of reduced productions of target /sC/-onsets there is a temporal trace of the ‘deleted’ segment, providing evidence for a covert contrast between words with complex- and simple onsets. Toddlers’ lexical representations of /sC/-onsets thus appear to be complete.