Phonotactic constraints on infant word learning.

TitlePhonotactic constraints on infant word learning.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsEstes KGraf, Edwards J, Saffran JR
JournalInfancy
Volume16
Issue2
Pagination180-197
Date Published2011
ISSN1525-0008
Abstract

How do infants use their knowledge of native language sound patterns when learning words? There is ample evidence of infants' precocious acquisition of native language sound structure during the first years of life, but much less evidence concerning how they apply this knowledge to the task of associating sounds with meanings in word learning. To address this question, 18-month-olds were presented with two phonotactically legal object labels (containing sound sequences that occur frequently in English) or two phonotactically illegal object labels (containing sound sequences that never occur in English), paired with novel objects. Infants were then tested using a looking-while-listening measure. The results revealed that infants looked at the correct objects after hearing the legal labels, but not the illegal labels. Furthermore, vocabulary size was related to performance. Infants with larger receptive vocabularies displayed greater differences between learning of legal and illegal labels than infants with smaller vocabularies. These findings provide evidence that infants' knowledge of native language sound patterns influences their word learning.

DOI10.1111/j.1532-7078.2010.00046.x
Alternate JournalInfancy
PubMed ID21297877
PubMed Central IDPMC3032547
Grant ListR01 DC002932 / DC / NIDCD NIH HHS / United States
P30 HD003352 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
P30 HD003352-40 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R01 HD037466 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
F31 DC007277-01 / DC / NIDCD NIH HHS / United States
F31 DC007277 / DC / NIDCD NIH HHS / United States
R01 HD037466-01A1 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States