The Acquisition of Word-Initial Consonant Cluster Production in Russian

A Case Study



consonants, consonant clusters


The majority of approaches to the acquisition of phonology attempt to model discrepancies between child and adult speech, with less attention given to children whose pronunciation is accurate. This is especially true in the acquisition of consonant clusters, where models attempt to explain children’s “errors” or non-adult-like production in terms of articulatory difficulty or phonological markedness effects. In this study, dense longitudinal data from one child’s third year show exceptional production of Russian word-initial consonant clusters. Though other studies suggest that sonority sequencing plays a central role in consonant cluster acquisition, no support for sonority-based generalizations are found in the naturalistic speech data of a two-year-old bilingual Russian-American English girl, Ulijana. On the contrary, sonority reversals were acquired early, while ideal sonority clines were acquired late. Alternative explanations for observed patterns include frequency effects and the articulatory difficulty of segments.




How to Cite

Kistanova, E. V. . “The Acquisition of Word-Initial Consonant Cluster Production in Russian: A Case Study”. Journal of Slavic Linguistics, vol. 29, no. FASL 28 extra issue, Dec. 2021,