“Again and again: reduplication in child phonology” by Richard G. Schwartz, Laurence B. Leonard, M. Jeanne Wilcox and M. Karen Folger examines the role of Reduplication in Phonological Acquisition and Behavior strategy. It observes in particular the connection between the strategy adoption and children’s inability to “produce non-reduplicated multisyllabic forms and final consonants when attempting corresponding adult models”; as well as the importance of the reduplication process in relation to production constraints.
The research was conducted through the comparison of the phonologies of two groups of children: one consisting of six children classified as reduplicators and another one consisting of six children classified as non-reduplicators. All of the children but one were representatives of middle-class families and all suffered from moderate linguistic developmental milestones. The study was taking place in an experimental playroom, all children similarly controlled. Researchers collected samples of non-imitative speech from each child.
It was discovered that strategy adoption or non-adoption was strongly dependent on the extent of production of non-reduplicated multisyllabic forms. It also revealed that the process of producing the words as reduplications served primarily to limit multisyllabic productions, and secondarily to constrain the production of the final consonant.
The findings of the research propose that in the cases of strategy adaptation by children, reduplication may play a transitional role in the phonological acquisition of multisyllabic words. Yet this theory needs more supporting data not yet available, and, moreover, the role of other strategies has to be considered when talking about transition.
The importance of the present investigation is in its attempt to place “an individual strategy of phonological acquisition as in the broader contexts of phonological acquisition and behavior”. The author claims that the identification of new phonological acquisition strategies, as well as the roles that such strategies play, have to be the goal of further investigations.