ERIC Number: EJ1052213
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
From Flexibility to Constraint: The Contrastive Use of Lexical Tone in Early Word Learning
Hay, Jessica F.; Graf Estes, Katharine; Wang, Tianlin; Saffran, Jenny R.
Child Development, v86 n1 p10-22 Jan-Feb 2015
Infants must develop both flexibility and constraint in their interpretation of acceptable word forms. The current experiments examined the development of infants' lexical interpretation of non-native variations in pitch contour. Fourteen-, 17-, and 19-month-olds (Experiments 1 and 2, N = 72) heard labels for two novel objects; labels contained the same syllable produced with distinct pitch contours (Mandarin lexical tones). The youngest infants learned the label-object mappings, but the older groups did not, despite being able to discriminate pitch differences in an object-free task (Experiment 3, N = 14). Results indicate that 14-month-olds remain flexible regarding what sounds make meaningful distinctions between words. By 17-19 months, experience with a nontonal native language constrains infants' interpretation of lexical tone.
Descriptors: Infants, Intonation, Auditory Perception, Suprasegmentals, Task Analysis, Native Language, Phonology, Syllables, Mandarin Chinese, Cognitive Mapping, Age Differences, Tone Languages
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (NIH); National Science Foundation
Authoring Institution: N/A
IES Grant or Contract Numbers: F32HD557032|R37HD037466|BCS0847379|P30HD03352