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Academic Paper


Title: Mothers respond differently to infants' familiar versus non-familiar verbal imitations
Author: Janet Olson
Institution: Northern Illinois University
Author: Elise Frank Masur
Institution: Northern Illinois University
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Abstract: Mothers' verbal responses to their infants' spontaneous imitations of familiar and non-familiar words during naturally occurring interactions were examined in a longitudinal sample observed at 1 ; 1, 1 ; 5 and 1 ; 9. Maternal responses to both familiar and non-familiar imitations exhibited structural characteristics likely to be facilitative of early word learning, including shorter and single-word utterances and reproductions of imitated words in sentence-final position. Mothers also responded differentially to infants' non-familiar versus familiar imitations. Mothers produced more return imitations and more exact repetitions, providing an extra exemplar, following infants' imitations of non-familiar words. The familiar words infants imitated were more likely to receive the more complex expanded and reduced+expanded return imitations. Results suggest mothers' responses to infants' verbal imitations could serve as a mechanism for facilitating language acquisition.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 39, Issue 4, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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