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Academic Paper

Title: The development of phonetic representation in bilingual and monolingual infants
Author: Katherine A. Yoshida
Institution: University of British Columbia
Author: Janet F Werker
Institution: University of British Columbia
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics; Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: The development of native language phonetic representations in bilingual infants was compared to that of monolingual infants. Infants (ages 6–8, 10–12, and 14–20 months) from English–French or English-only environments were tested on their ability to discriminate a French and an English voice onset time distinction. Although 6- to 8-month-olds responded similarly irrespective of language environment, by 10–12 months both groups of infants displayed language-specific perceptual abilities: the monolinguals demonstrated realignment to the native English boundary whereas the bilinguals began discriminating both native boundaries. This suggests that infants exposed to two languages from birth are equipped to phonetically process each as a native language and the development of phonetic representation is neither delayed nor compromised by additional languages.


This article appears IN Applied Psycholinguistics Vol. 28, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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