Words in a sea of sounds: the output of infant statistical learning
One of the first problems confronting infant language learners is word segmentation:. Prior research suggests that 8-month-old infants can detect the statistical patterns that serve as a cue to word boundaries. However, the representational structure of the output of this learning process is unknown. This research assessed the extent to which statistical learning generates novel word-like units, rather than probabilistically-related strings of sounds. Eight-month-old infants were familiarized with a continuous stream of nonsense words with no acoustic cues to word boundaries. A post-familiarization test compared the infants' responses to words versus part-words (sequences spanning a word boundary) embedded either in simple English contexts familiar to the infants (e.g. "I like my tibudo"), or in matched nonsense frames (e.g. "zy fike ny tibudo"). Listening preferences were affected by the context (English versus nonsense) in which the items from the familiarization phase were embedded during testing. A second experiment confirmed that infants can discriminate the simple English contexts and the matched nonsense frames used in
Experiment 1. The third experiment replicated the results of Experiment 1 by contrasting the English test frames with non-linguistic frames generated from tone sequences. The results support the hypothesis that statistical learning mechanisms generate word-like units with some status relative to the native language. (C) 2001
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There are 220 words in this abstract.
This research is mainly about the language acquisition of infants. The researcher noticed the shortage from the prior research which only mentioned the result of infants who can discover the boundaries between words. However, the learning process is still unknown. As a result, the researcher took the post-familiarization as a vehicle and found out that infant’s own the ability to embed the simple English contexts. Moreover, after the researcher compared several experiments to find out the relation between statistical learning and sounds, the research has finally been confirmed that infants can surely generate word-like units with some status relative to the native language by statistical learning mechanism.
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