Developmental Science

Skip to Search

Skip to Navigation

Volume 10 Issue 5 (September 2007), Pages 513-711

Twenty‐two‐month‐olds discriminate fluent from disfluent adult‐directed speech (pages 641-653)


Deviation of real speech from grammatical ideals due to disfluency and other speech errors presents potentially serious problems for the language learner. While infants may initially benefit from attending primarily or solely to infant‐directed speech, which contains few grammatical errors, older infants may listen more to adult‐directed speech. In a first experiment, Post‐verbal infants preferred fluent speech to disfluent speech, while Pre‐verbal infants showed no preference. In a second experiment, Post‐verbal infants discriminated disfluent and fluent speech even when lexical information was removed, showing that they make use of prosodic properties of the speech stream to detect disfluency. Because disfluencies are highly correlated with grammatical errors, this sensitivity provides infants with a means of filtering ungrammaticality from their input.

Add This link

Bookmark and Share>