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Volume 8 Issue 5 (September 2005), Pages 387-458

11‐month‐olds’ knowledge of how familiar words sound (pages 432-443)


During the first year of life, infants’ perception of speech becomes tuned to the phonology of the native language, as revealed in laboratory discrimination and categorization tasks using syllable stimuli. However, the implications of these results for the development of the early vocabulary remain controversial, with some results suggesting that infants retain only vague, sketchy phonological representations of words. Five experiments using a preferential listening procedure tested Dutch 11‐month‐olds’ responses to word, nonword and mispronounced‐word stimuli. Infants listened longer to words than nonwords, but did not exhibit this response when words were mispronounced at onset or at offset. In addition, infants preferred correct pronunciations to onset mispronunciations. The results suggest that infants’ encoding of familiar words includes substantial phonological detail.

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