Development of fricative sound perception in Korean infants: The role of language experience and infants' initial sensitivity.
In this paper, we report data on the development of Korean infants' perception of a rare fricative phoneme distinction. Korean fricative consonants have received much interest in the linguistic community due to the language's distinct categorization of sounds. Unlike many fricative contrasts utilized in most of the world's languages, Korean fricatives (/s*/-/s/) are all voiceless. Moreover, compared with other sound categories, fricatives have received very little attention in the speech perception development field and no studies thus far have examined Korean infants' development of native phonology in this domain. Using a visual habituation paradigm, we tested 4‒6-month-old and 7‒9-month-old Korean infants on their abilities to discriminate the Korean fricative pair in the [a] vowel context, /s*a/-/sa/, which can be distinguished based on acoustic cues, such as the durations of aspiration and frication noise. Korean infants older than 7 months were able to reliably discriminate the fricative pair but younger infants did not show clear signs of such discrimination. These results add to the growing evidence that there are native sound contrasts infants cannot discriminate early on without a certain amount of language exposure, providing further data to help delineate the specific nature of early perceptual capacity.
Shin, M; Choi, Y; Mazuka, R
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