Perception of linguistic rhythm by newborn infants

Ramus, Franck (2000) Perception of linguistic rhythm by newborn infants. [Preprint]


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Previous studies have shown that newborn infants are able to discriminate between certain languages, and it has been suggested that they do so by categorizing varieties of speech rhythm. However, in order to confirm this hypothesis, it is necessary to show that language discrimination is still performed by newborns when all speech cues other than rhythm are removed. Here, we conducted a series of experiments assessing discrimination between Dutch and Japanese by newborn infants, using a speech resynthesis technique to progressively degrade non-rhythmical properties of the sentences. When the stimuli are resynthesized using identical phonemes and artificial intonation contours for the two languages, thereby preserving only their rhythmic structure, newborns are still able to discriminate the languages. We conclude that new-borns are able to classify languages according to their type of rhythm, and that this ability may help them bootstrap other phonological properties of their native language.

Item Type:Preprint
Keywords:newborn speech perception language discrimination rhythm prosody bootstrapping
Subjects:Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Psychology > Developmental Psychology
Linguistics > Phonology
Psychology > Perceptual Cognitive Psychology
Psychology > Psycholinguistics
ID Code:872
Deposited By: Ramus, Dr Franck
Deposited On:17 Jul 2000
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:54

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