ERIC Number: EJ784695
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Feb
Reference Count: 0
Boundary Alignment Enables 11-Month-Olds to Segment Vowel Initial Words from Speech
Seidl, Amanda; Johnson, Elizabeth K.
Journal of Child Language, v35 n1 p1-24 Feb 2008
Past research has indicated that English-learning infants begin segmenting words from speech by 7.5 months of age (Jusczyk & Aslin, 1995). More recent work has demonstrated, however, that 7.5-month-olds' segmentation abilities are severely limited. For example, the ability to segment vowel-initial words from speech reportedly does not appear until 13.5 to 16 months of age (Mattys & Jusczyk, 2001; Nazzi, Dilley, Jusczyk, Shattuck-Hufnagel & Jusczyk, 2005). In this paper, we report on three experiments using the Headturn Preference procedure that investigate both phonetic and phonological factors influencing 11-month-olds' segmentation of vowel-initial words from speech. We replicate earlier findings suggesting that infants have difficulty segmenting vowel-initial words from speech. In addition we extend these findings by demonstrating that under certain conditions, infants are capable of segmenting vowel-initial words from speech at a much younger age than earlier studies have reported. Our findings suggest that infants' ability to segment vowel-initial words from speech is tightly constrained by acoustic-phonetic factors such as pitch movement at the onset of vowel-initial words and segmental strengthening. These experiments underscore the complexity of early word segmentation, and highlight the importance of including contextual factors in developmental models of word segmentation.
Descriptors: Phonetics, Vowels, Infants, English, Phonology, Phonemes, Speech Communication, Child Language, Language Acquisition
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
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