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The Acquisition of Heritage Languages

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Academic Paper


Title: Learning non-adjacent regularities at age 0 ; 7
Author: Judit Gervain
Institution: Université Paris V - Descartes
Author: Janet F Werker
Institution: University of British Columbia
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Abstract: One important mechanism suggested to underlie the acquisition of grammar is rule learning. Indeed, infants aged 0 ; 7 are able to learn rules based on simple identity relations (adjacent repetitions, ABB: “wo fe fe” and non-adjacent repetitions, ABA: “wo fe wo”, respectively; Marcus et al., ). One unexplored issue is whether young infants are able to process both adjacent and non-adjacent repetitions. As the previous studies always compared the two types of repetition structures directly, the ability to learn only one of them was sufficient for successful discrimination in these tasks. The present study reports two experiments, in which we test the ability of infants aged 0 ; 7 to discriminate adjacent and non-adjacent repetition structures against random controls (ABB vs. ABC and ABA vs. ABC). We show that, contrary to some previous proposals, infants aged 0 ; 7 successfully discriminate both repetition types from random controls, but show no spontaneous preference for either of them.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 40, Issue 4, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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