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ERIC Number: EJ827043
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 56
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
Perception of Vowel Length by Japanese- and English-Learning Infants
Mugitani, Ryoko; Pons, Ferran; Fais, Laurel; Dietrich, Christiane; Werker, Janet F.; Amano, Shigeaki
Developmental Psychology, v45 n1 p236-247 Jan 2009
This study investigated vowel length discrimination in infants from 2 language backgrounds, Japanese and English, in which vowel length is either phonemic or nonphonemic. Experiment 1 revealed that English 18-month-olds discriminate short and long vowels although vowel length is not phonemically contrastive in English. Experiments 2 and 3 revealed that Japanese 18-month-olds also discriminate the pairs but in an asymmetric manner: They detected only the change from long to short vowel, but not the change in the opposite direction, although English infants in Experiment 1 detected the change in both directions. Experiment 4 tested Japanese 10-month-olds and revealed a symmetric pattern of discrimination similar to that of English 18-month-olds. Experiment 5 revealed that native adult Japanese speakers, unlike Japanese 18-month-old infants who are presumably still developing phonological perception, ultimately acquire a symmetrical discrimination pattern for the vowel contrasts. Taken together, our findings suggest that English 18-month-olds and Japanese 10-month-olds perceive vowel length using simple acoustic-phonetic cues, whereas Japanese 18-month-olds perceive it under the influence of the emerging native phonology, which leads to a transient asymmetric pattern in perception. (Contains 6 figures and 2 footnotes.)
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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