A Lecture about… Phonetic Acquisition. Veronica Weiner May, 2006. What is phonetic acquisition?. Learning what sounds are part of a language Learning to categorize sounds across different speakers and contexts Learning what groups of sounds constitute words
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are combined into phonemic categories or just phonemes
“General auditory perceptual abilities provided the ‘basic cuts’ that influence the choice of sounds for the phonetic repertoire of the world’s languages”
(Kuhl, NRN, 2003)
Infants are more sensitive to phonemic boundaries than other sounds at an “equivalent distance,” even in languages they have not heard.
Image source: http://www.eskimo.com
Image source: Wikipedia entry for Formant
Figure source: Kuhl P. Nat Rev Neuro, 2004.Original figure: Peterson & Barney, 1952
Hillenbrand’s group added sound duration and formant contours.
Higher dimensional space of auditory features.
Figure source: Hillenbrand et al 1995
Male (Adler) Female, high voice, a bit slower (Mary Pat)
Source: Tony Ezzat, CBCL
Figure source: P Kuhl. Nat Rev Neurosci. 04.
- Friction frequency
- F2 Transition2. Acquisition in older childrenHazan and Barrett (2000)
Bottom figure: P Kuhl. NRN. 04.
Different 50% equivalence point in children and adults
Adult perception is significantly more “categorical” than 12 y.o.’s2. Acquisition in older childrenHazan and Barrett (2000)
Photo source: Werker lab website
Cross sectional data: 10-12 subjects, M&F approx split, for each bar in figure.
Longitudinal data: 3 M, 3 F
Babies look longer at [ta] and [da] pairs after they have been trained on the bimodal distribution.
One key problem in word segmentation:
- Statistical ‘pretty baby’ transitional probabilities
- Prosodic (word stress)
Image source: P Kuhl. NRN. 04.
Figure source: P Kuhl. NRN. 04.
Experiment 1: Replication of Saffran et. al
Experiment 2: Part-words had a stressed first syllable
Experiment 3: Part-words were coarticulated (spoken together), while statistical words were not.
Experiment 4: Control: statistical words were coarticulated, part words were not.
In 8 month olds, prosody wins.
To what extent do these results generalize to
Kuhl et al. (03) show that English speaking 9 month old babies can learn Mandarin phonetic contrasts from a live person but not a video of that person.
Goldstein et al. (03) show that 8 month old babies receiving positive feedback from their mothers vocalized more than yoked controls.
Figure source: P Kuhl. NRN. 04.
Evidence of multimodal phonetic acquisition.
Rowland (83) shows that blind children make fewer vocalizations but begin babbling at the same time as sighted children.
Slide source: N Pitchford lecturenotes, Nottingham University
Pettito et al. (91) show that deaf babies exposed to sign language make ten times more “babbling” hand gestures than controls.