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Volume 6 Issue 2 (April 2003), Pages 119-231

German‐learning infants’ ability to detect unstressed closed‐class elements in continuous speech (pages 122-127)


The paper reports on two experiments with the head turn preference method which provide evidence that already at 7 to 9 months, but not yet at 6 months, German‐learning infants do recognize unstressed closed‐class lexical elements in continuous speech. These findings support the view that even preverbal children are able to compute at least phonological representations for closed‐class functional elements. They also suggest that these elements must be available to the language learning mechanisms of the child from very early on, allowing the child to make use of the distributional properties of closed‐class lexical elements for further top‐down analysis of the linguistic input, e.g. segmentation and syntactic categorization.

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