Effects of linguistic variance on sound-meaning connections in early stages of language acquisition.  

Eeva Koponen, Lisa Gustavsson & Francisco Lacerda

In the Proceedings of the XVth ICPhS, Barcelona, August 3-9, 2003: 1975-1978.


To explore the processes underlying early sound-meaning connections an artificial language was created and used in a series of infant speech perception studies. The subjects were tested using the Visual Preference Procedure. The subjects' responses were quantified in terms of looking times towards objects shown during the audio-visual exposure. Exposure to speech materials with large variance seemed to curtail the subjects' ability to establish stable sound-meaning connections. However, reducing the linguistic variance led to successful sound-meaning connections. These results indicate that linguistic variance is one of the primary determinants of sound-meaning connections for 1-year old subjects. The paper will discuss how structural differences in natural language settings may account for the infant's performance on word learning.

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