Evidence for language-specific influence on the preference of stress patterns in infants learning an iambic language (Hebrew)

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Abstract

Purpose: Theability of infantstodeveloprecognitionofacommonstress pattern that is language specific has been tested mainly in trochaic languages with a strong-weak (SW) stress pattern. The goals of the present study were: (a) to test Hebrew-learning infants on their stress pattern preference in the Hebrew language, for which the weak-strong (WS) stress pattern is the common one, and (b) to test whether the infantswouldgeneralizeanypreference for the common stresspattern inHebrew to English words, which belong to a different rhythmic class. Method: Fifty-six 9-month-old Hebrew-learning infants were tested on their preference for SW and WS stress patterns using Hebrew and English bisyllabic words with the Head-Turn Preference Procedure. Results: The infants showed preference for WS Hebrew words but not for SW English words. Conclusion: Hebrew-learning infants recognize the common stress pattern in their native language, supporting language-specific distributional learning by infants. This recognition, however, is not generalized to a foreign language with different prosodic characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1329-1341
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Volume55
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2012

Keywords

  • Development of auditory skills
  • Early language acquisition
  • Preference of stress patterns in an iambic language
  • Speech perception development

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