children move from the 'one-word' to the 'two-word' stage, some
of them incorporate unglossable syllables into their utterances,
syllables have been called 'placeholders' (Bloom 1970)
, 'presyntactic devices' (Dore, Franklin, Miller & Ramer
1976); 'fillers' (Peters 1977), or 'phonological extensions'
(Macken 1979; Peters 1986).
fillers have not been integrated into theories of language acquisition:
do not fit neatly into linguists' notions about 'modules' of
language because they straddle preconceived boundaries, such
as those between phonology and morphosyntax, and between pragmatics
perceptual characteristics of languages that seem to lead to
filler production are closely tied to prosody, particularly rhythm
and melody, and this is the aspect of language for which we have
had the least adequate descriptive and analytical tools.
do not appear uniformly: although they have been observed in
a wide array of languages, a 'filler strategy' may be more common
among learners of some languages than others, and even when language
is held constant, children vary immensely as to whether they
actually produce fillers.
children may use fillers at different stages of language development.
constitute a moving target, in that their characteristics change
with the stage of language acquisition that is being passed through.
of this page:
exemplify fillers, including the major types that have been observed
and the major functions for which learners seem to use them;
suggest criteria for identifying them.
of fillers at different stages
Examples with AUDIO for Premorphology
Examples with AUDIO for Protomorphology
Brian MacWhinney's homepage