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Academic Paper


Title: Acoustical Cues and Grammatical Units in Speech to Two Preverbal Infants
Author: Melanie Soderstrom
Institution: Brown University
Author: Megan Blossom
Institution: University of Kansas
Author: Rina Foygel
Institution: Brown University
Author: James L. Morgan
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Brown University
Linguistic Field: Phonetics; Phonology; Syntax; Pragmatics
Abstract: The current study examines the syntactic and prosodic characteristics of the maternal speech to two infants between six and ten months. Consistent with previous work, we find infant-directed speech to be characterized by generally short utterances, isolated words and phrases, and large numbers of questions, but longer utterances are also found. Prosodic information provides cues to grammatical units not only at utterance boundaries, but also at utterance-internal clause boundaries. Subject–verb phrase boundaries in questions also show reliable prosodic cues, although those of declaratives do not. Prosodic information may thus play an important role in providing preverbal infants with information about the grammatically relevant word groupings. Furthermore, questions may play an important role in infants' discovery of verb phrases in English.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 35, Issue 4, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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