The development of a phonological illusion: a cross-linguistic study with Japanese and French infants.
In adults, native language phonology has strong perceptual effects. Previous work has shown that Japanese speakers, unlike French speakers, break up illegal sequences of consonants with illusory vowels: they report hearing abna as abuna. To study the development of phonological grammar, we compared Japanese and French infants in a discrimination task. In Experiment 1, we observed that 14-month-old Japanese infants, in contrast to French infants, failed to discriminate phonetically varied sets of abna-type and abuna-type stimuli. In Experiment 2, 8-month-old French and Japanese did not differ significantly from each other. In Experiment 3, we found that, like adults, Japanese infants can discriminate abna from abuna when phonetic variability is reduced (single item). These results show that the phonologically induced /u/ illusion is already experienced by Japanese infants at the age of 14 months. Hence, before having acquired many words of their language, they have grasped enough of their native phonological grammar to constrain their perception of speech sound sequences.
Mazuka, R; Cao, Y; Dupoux, E; Christophe, A
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