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Academic Paper


Title: Boundary alignment enables 11-month-olds to segment vowel initial words from speech
Author: Amanda Seidl
Institution: Purdue University
Author: Elizabeth K. Johnson
Institution: University of Toronto
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Morphology; Phonology; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Past research has indicated that English-learning infants begin segmenting words from speech by 7·5 months of age (Jusczyk & Aslin, 1995). More recent work has demonstrated, however, that 7·5-month-olds' segmentation abilities are severely limited. For example, the ability to segment vowel-initial words from speech reportedly does not appear until 13·5 to 16 months of age (Mattys & Jusczyk, 2001; Nazzi, Dilley, Jusczyk, Shattuck-Hufnagel & Jusczyk, 2005). In this paper, we report on three experiments using the Headturn Preference procedure that investigate both phonetic and phonological factors influencing 11-month-olds' segmentation of vowel-initial words from speech. We replicate earlier findings suggesting that infants have difficulty segmenting vowel-initial words from speech. In addition we extend these findings by demonstrating that under certain conditions, infants are capable of segmenting vowel-initial words from speech at a much younger age than earlier studies have reported. Our findings suggest that infants' ability to segment vowel-initial words from speech is tightly constrained by acoustic-phonetic factors such as pitch movement at the onset of vowel-initial words and segmental strengthening. These experiments underscore the complexity of early word segmentation, and highlight the importance of including contextual factors in developmental models of word segmentation.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Journal of Child Language Vol. 35, Issue 1, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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