ERIC Number: EJ943770
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Nov
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
Isolated Words Enhance Statistical Language Learning in Infancy
Lew-Williams, Casey; Pelucchi, Bruna; Saffran, Jenny R.
Developmental Science, v14 n6 p1323-1329 Nov 2011
Infants are adept at tracking statistical regularities to identify word boundaries in pause-free speech. However, researchers have questioned the relevance of statistical learning mechanisms to language acquisition, since previous studies have used simplified artificial languages that ignore the variability of real language input. The experiments reported here embraced a key dimension of variability in infant-directed speech. English-learning infants (8-10 months) listened briefly to natural Italian speech that contained either fluent speech only or a combination of fluent speech and single-word utterances. Listening times revealed successful learning of the statistical properties of target words only when words appeared both in fluent speech and in isolation; brief exposure to fluent speech alone was not sufficient to facilitate detection of the words' statistical properties. This investigation suggests that statistical learning mechanisms actually benefit from variability in utterance length, and provides the first evidence that isolated words and longer utterances act in concert to support infant word segmentation.
Descriptors: Infants, Language Acquisition, English, Italian, Speech, Linguistic Input, Mathematical Linguistics
Wiley-Blackwell. 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148. Tel: 800-835-6770; Tel: 781-388-8598; Fax: 781-388-8232; e-mail: email@example.com; Web site: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A