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ERIC Number: EJ1005691
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Feb
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0749-596X
When Does Native Language Input Affect Phonetic Perception? The Precocious Case of Lexical Tone
Yeung, H. Henny; Chen, Ke Heng; Werker, Janet F.
Journal of Memory and Language, v68 n2 p123-139 Feb 2013
Previous studies have suggested that the perception of vowels and consonants changes from language-universal to language-specific between 6 and 12 months of age. This report suggests that language-specific perception emerges even earlier for lexical tones. Experiment 1 tested English-learners' perception of Cantonese tones, replicating declines in tone discrimination from 4 to 9 months of age. Experiment 2 tested infants learning "non-native" versus "native" tone systems (Mandarin-learners versus Cantonese-learners). All Chinese-learners discriminated the tones, but showed language-specific differences in tone "preferences" at both ages. Indeed, English-, Mandarin-, and Cantonese-learning 4-month-olds all exhibited distinct preferences. With other work, this shows that language-specific speech perception emerges over a more complex and extended schedule than previously thought: first for lexical stress and tone (less than 5 months), then vowels (6-8 months), consonants (8.5-12 months), and finally phoneme duration (18 months). Acoustic salience likely plays an important role in determining the timing of phonetic development. (Contains 6 figures and 2 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A