Title page for ETD etd-1624102249741411

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Theaux, Heather M
URN etd-1624102249741411
Title Discrimination of Linguistic and Prosodic Information In Infant-Directed Speech by Six-Month-Olds
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Bell, Martha Ann
Crawford, Helen J.
Cooper, Robin K. Panneton Committee Chair
  • word discrimination
  • pitch contours
  • infant directed speech
Date of Defense 1997-05-08
Availability unrestricted
The purpose of the present study was to tease apart the paralinguistic from the

linguistic aspects of infants' perception of infant-directed (ID) speech. Several

studies have shown that infants beginning at a few days after birth discriminate

native from nonnative speech and can discriminate specific contours (rising, falling,

rising-falling) in ID speech. Some studies have also indicated that infants at

4.5 months of age prefer their own name over other names but at 6 months of age,

fail to prefer a sentence with their own name embedded in it. Using a discrimination

procedure, the current study investigated whether 6-month-old infants could detect

a change in contour and/or a change in words when listening to ID utterances.

Results indicated that 6-month-old infants detected both a contour and a word

change. From these results, it is argued that as has been shown in other exper-

iments, infants are extremely sensitive to subtle changes in speech. Furthermore,

ID speech appears to facilitate infants' ability to discriminate small changes in

ID speech (both linguistic and paralinguistic). It is suggested that future studies

investigate more discrete changes in speech samples and a replication of this

research with adult-directed (AD) speech.

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