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Title:Phonological Development: Mechanisms and Representations
Author(s):Chambers, Kyle Edward
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Fisher, Cynthia
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Developmental
Abstract:By the time language users have reached adulthood, they are very efficient at comprehending and producing language. This efficiency, in part, arises from the ability of adults to take advantage of regularities present in their language, which they have learned during the course of development. Recently, researchers have suggested that the sensitivity to distributional information in one's linguistic environment persists throughout adulthood (e.g., Dell, Reed, Adams, & Meyer, 2000; Onishi, Chambers, & Fisher, 2002) and that the learning mechanism that enables malleability in adults could have been used for phonological development in infants (Chambers, Onishi, & Fisher, 2003). However, in order to better understand the mechanism involved in the learning of linguistic regularities, it is important to delineate what representations are formed during learning and to what extent these representations support or restrict generalization to new instances. The current paper will focus on the acquisition of novel phonotactic regularities and the representations formed during learning. Specifically, I examined adults' (Chapter 2) and infants' (Chapter 3) ability to learn novel phonotactic regularities from brief auditory exposure and to extend these newly learned phonotactic regularities to novel phonological contexts. I found that both adults and infants, with the same amount of exposure, quickly acquired novel consonant-position regularities (first-order) and consonant-position regularities contingent on a particular vowel (second-order) from auditory experience. Moreover, adults and infants extended newly learned first-order regularities to novel vowel contexts, suggesting that consonants were easily separable from their vowel contexts and that adults and infants speech sound representations supported free generalization across vowels. Finally, I demonstrated that, like adults (Onishi et al., 2002), infants learning of phonological regularities was guided by the characteristics of speech sound representations. Specifically, infants did not readily learn a consonant-position regularity contingent on a particular speaker, even though they received the same amount of exposure to the regularity as they did for the similarly-structured vowel-contingent regularity. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that each listening experience adds information to adults' and infants' phonological processing system, allowing adults to adapt to their current linguistic environment and infants to acquire the phonology of their language.
Issue Date:2004
Description:77 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2004.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3153263
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2004

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