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Title:A Perceptually-Based Model of Children's First Words
Author(s):Echols, Catharine H.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Newport, Elissa
Department / Program:Psychology
Discipline:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Psychology, Developmental
Abstract:Two studies were conducted to test components of a model developed to account for children's ability to extract word-level units from the stream of speech. The model incorporates the notion that perceptual biases may assist in the identification of linguistically-relevant units in speech into a framework provided by a current theory in phonology, autosegmental theory. The first study, a detailed analysis of a corpus of utterances obtained from one-word speakers, provided evidence consistent with the argument that stressed and final syllables are particularly salient to children and that biases to attend to these salient syllables may constrain the task of identifying words in a stream of speech: Syllables which were stressed and final in the adult target were more accurately reproduced and, stressed syllables were less frequently omitted, than were unstressed and nonfinal syllables. In addition, analyses of particular relevant subsets of utterances provided support for the utility of the autosegmental component of the model. The second study, which was an experimental study in which two- and three-year olds were required to learn nonsense-word names, provided more direct support for the autosegmental framework. Results of this study suggested that children will, in some cases, identify words on the basis of the intonation rather than the sequence of phonemes associated with those words. These results are consistent with the prediction, based on the autosegmental perspective, that intonation can be extracted and represented independently of the phoneme sequence. They also suggest that intonation is salient to children and important in defining a word. The results of these two studies provide support for a possible role for perceptual biases in the initial identification of words, and for the general utility of autosegmental theory in a description of children's earliest productions.
Issue Date:1987
Type:Text
Description:142 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1987.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/69696
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8803028
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1987


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