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The Development of Word Stress Processing in French and Spanish Infants

Skoruppa, Katrin and Pons, Ferran and Bosch, Laura and Christophe, Anne and Cabrol, Dominique and Peperkamp, Sharon (2013) 'The Development of Word Stress Processing in French and Spanish Infants.' Language Learning and Development, 9 (1). pp. 88-104. ISSN 1547-5441

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Abstract

This study focuses on the development of lexical stress perception during the first year of life. Previous research shows that cross-linguistic differences in word stress organization translate into differences in word stress processing from a very early age: At 9 months, Spanish-learning infants, learning a language with variable word stress, can discriminate between segmentally varied nonsense words with initial stress (e.g., níla, túli) and final stress (e.g., lutá, pukí) in a headturn preference procedure. However, French infants, who learn a language with fixed word stress, can only distinguish between initial and final stress when no segmental variability is involved (Skoruppa et al., 2009). The present study investigates the emergence of this cross-linguistic difference. We show that at six months, neither Spanish nor French infants encode stress patterns in the presence of segmental variability (Experiment 1), while both groups succeed in the absence of segmental variability (Experiment 2). Hence, only Spanish infants, who learn a variable stress language, get better at tracking stress patterns in segmentally varied words between the ages of 6 and 9 months. In contrast, all infants seem to be able to discriminate basic stress patterns in the absence of segmental variability during the first nine months of life, regardless of the status of stress in their native language.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2013 15:54
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2014 11:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/5473

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