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Academic Paper


Title: Boundary alignment enables 11-month-olds to segment vowel initial words from speech
Author: Amanda Seidl
Institution: Purdue University
Author: Elizabeth K. Johnson
Institution: University of Toronto
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Morphology; Phonology; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: 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.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 35, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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