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"Pa-sgetti!"

You know "Pa-sgetti"—it's pasta with tomato sauce—and it's also the way many young children pronounce spaghetti. Why? Linguists who study how children learn language can tell you.

The "sp" in spaghetti is what linguists call a consonant cluster because its made up of more than one consonant. Children learning how to speak find words that start with a consonant cluster more difficult to say because they are still learning how to control their speech organs (the tongue and lips). So they'll often reduce a consonant cluster to one of its parts, in this case "p." Children's speech errors are not random, but follow patterns that linguists can study. So pass the "pa-sgetti," please!

More on linguistics!



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