The effects of consonantal specificity, articulatory phonetics and prosody in young infants’ lexical acquisition

Victoria Farley

Abstract


The present study was designed to investigate the role of consonants within word-initial consonantal contrasts, articulatory phonetics (involving place of articulation and voicing features) and prosody in young infants’ lexical acquisition. The participants were twenty-four 25-month-old infants, who were recruited from the Babylab database at The University of Plymouth. All children participated in a modified name-categorisation task and the actual experiment involved the use of eight disyllable paired pseudowords. The results found that this age group were unable to learn phonetically similar pseudowords that had a consonantal contrast and were unable to distinguish between word-initial contrasts that used articulatory phonetic features. However, the present study did find that this age group were sensitive to prosody changes when learning new words.

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ISSN 1754-2383 [Online] ©University of Plymouth