14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

Cross-Linguistic Evidence for Early Prosodic Learning

Marilyn May Vihman (1), Rory A. DePaolis (2), Satsuki Nakai (1), Lucy Evans (1), Sari Kunnari (3)

(1) School of Psychology, University of Wales, Bangor, UK
(2) Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, James Madison University, USA
(3) Department of Finnish, Saami and Logopedics, University of Oulu, Finland

Based on data from children acquiring each of 5 languages (English, Finnish, French, Japanese and Welsh), we show that the early course of prosodic development follows much the same developmental profile as does the acquisition of segmental patterns, and on a simliar time course. At the outset of word use high variability in the expression of prosodic parameters reflects infant exploration of the ‘degrees of freedom’ afforded by the physiological constraints on vocal production, tempered by infant perception of the accentual characteristics of the ambient language. Wide variability in the production of individual infants is generally mirrored in high group variability as well. However, by the time children have a cumulative vocabulary of over 50 words, within-group homogeneity and between-group variation increase substantially. At this stage, when the beginnings of phonological organization have been identified, we see the incipient integration of prosodic and segmental patterns.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Vihman, Marilyn May / DePaolis, Rory A. / Nakai, Satsuki / Evans, Lucy / Kunnari, Sari (1999): "Cross-linguistic evidence for early prosodic learning", In ICPhS-14, 1193-1196.