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November 2021

Phonotactic and prosodic effects on word segmentation in infants

Author(s): Jusczyk, P. W., Luce, P. A., Morgan, J. L.

Journal/Book: Cog Psychol. 1999; 38: 525 B St, Ste 1900, San Diego, CA 92101-4495, USA. Academic Press Inc. 465-494.

Abstract: This research examines the issue of speech segmentation in 9-month-old infants. Two cues known to carry probabilistic information about word boundaries were investigated: Phonotactic regularity and prosodic pattern. The stimuli used in four head turn preference experiments were bisyllabic CVC.CVC nonwords bearing primary stress in either the first or the second syllable (strong/weak vs. Weak/strong). Stimuli also differed with respect to the phonotactic nature of their cross-syllabic C.C cluster. Clusters had either a low probability of occurring at a word juncture in fluent speech and a high probability of occurring inside of words (''within-word'' clusters) or a high probability of occurring at a word juncture and a low probability of occurring inside of words (''between-word'' clusters). Our results show that (1) 9-month-olds are sensitive to how phonotactic sequences typically align with word boundaries, (2) altering the stress pattern of the stimuli reverses infants' preference for phonotactic cluster types, (3) the prosodic cue to segmentation is more strongly relied upon than the phonotactic cue, and (4) a preference for high-probability between-word phonotactic sequences can be obtained either by placing stress on the second syllable of the stimuli or by inserting a pause between syllables. The implications of these results are discussed in light of an integrated multiple-cue approach to speech segmentation in infancy.

Note: Article Mattys SL, Johns Hopkins Univ, Dept Psychol, 3400 N Charles St, Baltimore,MD 21218 USA

Keyword(s): LANGUAGE SPEECH-PERCEPTION; ENGLISH-LEARNING INFANTS; 2-MONTH-OLD INFANTS; DEVELOPMENTAL-CHANGES; NATIVE LANGUAGE; YOUNG INFANTS; DISCRIMINATION; SENSITIVITY; STRESS; CUES


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