The phonological development of a trilingual child: facts and factors

Hsueh Yin Yang, Zhu Hua*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This article investigates the early phonological development of a trilingual child who is acquiring Spanish, Mandarin and Taiwanese simultaneously. By examining the natural speech data recorded between the age of 1;3 and 2;0, the article reports the age of emergence and stabilization of the vowels and consonants, speech accuracy and phonological error patterns in each language. The data show that by the age of two the child is able to produce most of the vowels in the three languages. However, there are cross-linguistic differences in the rate of acquisition of consonants and speech accuracy: the child's Spanish consonant inventory develops faster than the other two languages, while the child has statistically significantly higher speech accuracy in Taiwanese than in Spanish, which is in turn higher than that in Mandarin. There is also evidence of interaction or interference between the languages, e.g. the existence of unusual error patterns. These facts are interpreted in the context of phonological saliency of the three phonological systems and language input.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-126
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010


  • Input
  • Mandarin
  • Phonological saliency
  • Spanish
  • Taiwanese
  • Trilingual phonological acquisition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'The phonological development of a trilingual child: facts and factors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this